The All Night Library

My name is David Watson. I'm 47 years old and live in Milwaukee Wisconsin I love books and have been writing book reviews since 2010. I love to read across all genres but horror is my favorite. If you have a book you want to recommend to me please let me know.

Welcome To The Show

Welcome To The Show - Matt Hayward

You've probably read anthologies in the past that have mixed horror and music but this one is a little different. Welcome To The Show includes 17 horror stories that are all set in a fictional San Francisco night club called The Shantyman. Edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano this book takes you from The Shantyman's disturbing origins right up to it's apocalyptic future. Demons, vampires, other dimensions and the end of the world, its all here under one roof.

 

One story I liked here was Parody by Jeff Strand. Showing that this anthology has it all this was a funny story about a Weird Al wannabe. Zany Chester was hoping to make it big by singing his own 80's song parodies and hopefully open mic night at The Shantyman will be his big break. Things don't go according to plan though but at the least everyone will remember Chester's performance. This is a simple fun story but what I really liked was the attention to detail in Chester's character. It's obvious that Chester is delusional but the fun part is trying to tell the difference between Chester's reality and the real world. Jeff Strand really show's he's a great writer with this one. 

 

Another good one was Running Free by Brian Keene. This one is about a man who is dying of cancer who takes up running in hopes of dying of a heart attack instead of cancer because if the cancer kills him his family can't collect on his life insurance policy. The problem is he is starting to have visions of dark clouds hanging over people and try as he might he can't seem to bring on his demise. You have to give this story points for originality, there is a lot going on here and I found myself loving the main character even though he's a real bad person. Most of all I like how this story blends real life horror with fictional style horror.

 

My favorite story in the book was We Sang In Darkness by Mary SanGiovanni. This one is different from the others in the book. It's set in a dark future world where music is banned and aliens are part of society. This was beautifully written a lot of meaning in this one that is left to interpretation. What I liked most about it though was how music gets used as a form of communication between aliens and humans who can't understand the other's language. There is also a great jaw dropping shock ending here that fit the mood of the story perfectly.

 

The stories in Welcome To The Show were kind of hit and miss. There were plenty of gems but a few of them left me rolling my eyes. That being said I loved how this anthology creates it's own mythology with each story adding something original to it. The mood seems to change throughout the book as well with some stories being funny while others were dark, The Shantyman is a place where anything goes. The editor's had a nice concept in mind and the way the stories were connected it almost felt like a novel. Crystal Lake publishing puts out some great horror anthologies and this is no exception.

 

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

A Beautiful Work In Progress

A Beautiful Work In Progress by Mirna Valerio is a memoir of a long distance runner who isn't like everyone else. Mirna is a plus size athlete who never saw her size as a barrier to doing what she wanted to do. People picture runner should be thin but Mirna isn't like other runners. What drew me to this book was that I liked the idea that it was about someone who doesn't let stereotypes define her.

 

This book is somewhat of a coming of age story but more about self discovery. You get to hear about Mirna's youth and what made her to decide to be a runner. What I liked hearing about was how Mirna accepted her limitations but still managed to become the person she wanted to be. At one point in the book she is comparing herself to other kids and she accepts the fact that she doesn't have great social skills is not a good leader and she doesn't look like the popular kids but she is a good problem solver and determined to succeed. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and Mirna shows that how she used both to achieve what she wanted.

 

A Beautiful Work In Progress is a book about becoming the person you want to be in life and not letting other people's perceptions of what they think you should be define you. My only complaint about this book was that in places the book seemed redundant as she describes some of the runs that she has been on. Though this is a running memoir and you have to expect that.  I did enjoy how she describes the running community from how supportive people are to how she feels as she is running along admiring the beauty of nature. This is an inspirational book of someone who doesn't let limitations stop her and a good look at what it's like to be a runner. 

Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More

This is yet another graphic novel that I picked up off of Amazon Prime on an impulse. I saw Avengers Infinity War not too long ago. I had heard that the next Avengers movie will feature Captain Marvel and early next year she will get her own movie so I wanted to learn more about her. I remember the Male Captain Marvel from the seventies but this is a whole new character.

 

Captain Marvel, Volume 1 is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by David Lopez. This book includes issues 1 through 6 of the comic series and one self contained story. The tale begins with Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) finding an alien trapped in a capsule heading to earth. She saves the alien and then returns him to it's home world. 

 

 Once she arrives Captain Marvel discovers that the alien's planet is in danger and in conflict with the Galactic Alliance and the Spartax. She decides to stay and help the alien race but this will set off a chain of events that could alter all of the Marvel Universe and put her at odds with The Avengers. This book also includes appearances from The Guardians Of The Galaxy and Iron Man.

 

My main complaint about this book was that since I didn't know much about this character I was wanting a little orgin story but I didn't get it. Even though it started with a first issue it felt like I was starting a story in the middle. I realize that this is how the Marvel comics universe works, everything is connected and if you don't know anything about the universe you may be a little lost but I still would have liked a better starting point.

 

This is an entertaining book though.The characters were interesting,  the art was decent, the story was ok but nothing extraordinary. The book held my interest but wasn't as good as The Totally Awesome Hulk which I read not too long ago. There was a lot of potential in this book though, I would read more if I got the chance and I'm now looking forward to the upcoming movie. 

The Devil In The White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Tony Goldwyn, Erik Larson

I'm not going to spend much time describing The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. This book came out in 2003 and there are thousands of reviews out there about it. Generally it's an in depth look at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. This book gets into the making of the fair what happened during the fair and how the fair influenced America. It also follows a serial killer who used the fair to take advantage of victims. 

 

This is a fascinating book and it reads like two books in one. The story of the fair and the story of the serial killer are told in alternating chapters. Devil In The White City examines the mind of a notorious serial killer. What I found fascinating was how he came across as charming to so many people but behind the scenes people close to him were never seen again. He had multiple wives and took out insurance policies on people who he killed and then collected the money. It's amazing to me how someone who proves he has no soul can get so many people to trust him.

 

At first I felt that the story of the serial killer was much more interesting then the fair but as I kept reading I found the story of the fair being more interesting. The amount of effort and money that went into the fair was astronomical. More than 7 people died in the creation of the fair and the creators also had to put up with storms damaging the buildings, union workers striking and finally low attendance as the U.S. started to go through a depression as several large banks failed. 

 

Another thing I liked in this book was the descriptions of Chicago at the turn of the century. The city was growing in leaps and bounds but many people were poor and unable to support themselves. As the city's first skyscrapers were changing the city's skyline the Chicago stockyards were making the whole city smell like poop and the threat of cholera was always present. 

 

You could describe the period of Chicago's history that this book covers as The Best Of Times and The worst of Times. This is a great example of what life was like right before the turn of the century and how different life was. If you love history this book is a must read.

Harlan Ellison 1934 -2018

One of my all time favorite authors died this past week. Harlan Ellison was 84 years old he has written thousands of short stories, written numerous screenplays and use to have a regular segment on the show Sci Fi Buzz on the Sci Fi Channel back in the early nineties. 

 

This is where I discovered Harlan, I loved his commentaries and how he had no fear in criticizing anyone who annoyed him. From there I started buying some of his short story collections such as Deathbird Stories, The Harlan Ellison Hornbook, Ellison Wonderland and The Essential Harlan Ellison. The Essential Harlan Ellison is over 1ooo pages long and is the book I spent the most time reading without stopping. On one Saturday afternoon in College I got through 200 pages of the book in one sitting. When you read something from a great author you don't like to take breaks and Ellison was great.

 

As good as his writing was it was more fun hearing him rant about things. If you look on you tube you can still find his segments from the Sci Fi Channel along with several interviews he did with Tom Snyder on his old talk shows. Harlan was one of a kind and if you never heard him speak you are missing out.

 

I was lucky enough to meet Harlan Ellison twice at comic conventions in the early 1990's and despite his reputation he was very nice. When I first walked up to him he was talking about how he didn't like The Shadow from 1994. As he was talking I said I thought it was better than the Tim Burton Batman movies. He responded by saying he enjoyed the Tim Burton movies, he just felt The Shadow wasn't close enough to the original work. Harlan didn't only have a passion for writing he was passionate about reading, authors and comics. That day Harlan spoke in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic fans and sold quite a few books.

 

The next year I saw him at a Chicago comic convention, this time he was there to promote his work on the great Science Fiction series Babylon 5. Harlan had just had triple bypass heart surgery and wasn't as spry as he was at the previous convention but he still took time to speak to fans and sign books. As we waited for him to speak in one convention hall I noticed the first thing he did was check to see what books everyone in the hall was reading, the man was passionate about books. 

 

Once again I had the honor to talk to him, I knew he had written The City On The Edge Of Forever for Star Trek and helped keep Star Trek on the air in the 1960s. I also knew that he wasn't happy with the final product of The City On The Edge of Forever and grew to hate Star Trek. Being a fan of Star Trek at the time I asked him if he ever watched Star Trek. He said he only watched his episode and it broke his heart and he never watched again. Harlan took his work seriously and didn't take kindly to people trying to change his vision.

 

Another story I have of Harlan was when a friend and I were waiting in line to get books signed by him. After being in line for awhile Harlan said he wasn't feeling well and would return later. He then said that he would let any young kid cut in line and sign for them first. To this my friend wined, Harlan heard it and  yelled "Don't wine I'm always going to sign for kids before adults." When we were watching him speak later he told the story of the wining adult causing my friend to shrink down in his seat as the crowed laughed.

 

What was most important for Harlan Ellison was that he wanted to remembered for his work. In one of his Sci Fi segments after his heart attack he said "Whatever you do don't forget me." Harlan never had kids, his books were like his kids. So do yourself a favor look Harlan Ellison up on you tube and listen to some of his rants. Watch Babylon 5, Watch City On The Edge Of Forever his Outer Limits episodes and the movie version of A Boy And His Dog. Most importantly read his books.

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1XrlRQsRxYfuc47CCJN05w

 

http://www.harlanellison.com/home.htm

SPOILER ALERT!

Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball

Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball - John Klima I borrowed Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball by John Klima from my dad. My dad grew up in the 50's so he remembers the 1957 world series very well and since I now live in Milwaukee I was interested in learning more about this time in baseball history. This was a well researched book that gives an in-depth look at what I always thought of as the golden age of baseball.

1950's was a time in baseball where everything was changing and the city of New York was the baseball capitol of the world.  Bushville Wins! starts with 1953, the year the year the Braves moved to Milwaukee through the 1957 season. I loved how this book gets into how the whole state of Wisconsin fell in love with the Braves and how the Braves success led to the Giants and Dodgers moving out west. This book gets a little into how barn storming tours were becoming a thing of the past and the very end of the negro leagues. Television was changing a lot also and more people saw the 1957 world series from their homes than ever before.

My favorite part of this book was hearing about how different the players of the time were. There are stories on how Eddie Mathews loved to get drunk and get into fights, how the sports writers of the time use to protect the ball players if they were doing something along the lines of spending all their time in the bars and how the hero of every Braves win got a case of Miller high life from the Miller Brewery which is located near the stadium.The 1957 season gets described in great detail, I loved how it was pointed out how the 57 world series felt like a funeral to New York because both of their National League teams were leaving town and their fans were rooting for the Braves.

I thought it was interesting how when the World Series shifted to Milwaukee not only did the Braves get a warm welcome but the Yankees did too. The Yankees didn't know how to act in the face of Wisconsin hospitality which led to Casey Stengel  calling the city Bushville. Stengel became public enemy number 1. New York and Milwaukee couldn't have been more different but one thing New York found was that Milwaukee fans were much more passionate than New York fans at the time.

If there was anything I didn't like about this book it was that it gave a little too much detail on certain games in the season and how the fans were reacting to the teams and players. At times the descriptions seemed redundant and I found myself loosing interest at points. The book also made me a little sad it points out how important it was for when the Braves beat the Yankees yet we know the next season the Yankees got even and just a few years later Milwaukee's love affair with the Braves was over and the team was headed to Atlanta. This made me wonder why did a city that had a team who never had a losing season turn their backs on them? I guess that's a topic for another book. Since I live in Milwaukee I'm grateful that we have the Brewers to root for now.

The Totally Awesome Hulk Vol. 1: Cho Time

The Totally Awesome Hulk Vol. 1: Cho Time - Greg Pak Totally awesome!!!!

I picked this book up off of Amazon Prime on an impulse. The Incredible Hulk has always been my favorite comic book character. This looked like a fresh look at an old Marvel institution so I had to take a look and wasn't disappointed. I love the concept of AmadeusCho as the new hulk and his braniac sister as the one who gives him advice and acts as the leader of the duo. This book has great art, fun story ideas, a good sense of humor. I also enjoyed the appearances of Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor and Spider Man. I was sorry to see that this comic series didn't last long, I think it could make a great cartoon.

American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things - Bob Dotson This was an ok book, my dad got it and gave it to me. I loved the concept that it was about normal every day people and why they do what they do. I also liked that the main idea of the book seems to be that life is hard but if you work through the hard times there is always something better coming in the future.

What I didn't like about the book was that all of the stories were very short and there wasn't a great amount of detail. With each short story I found myself asking a lot of questions that never got answered. This book is based on a TV segment that Bob Dotson did and I wondered if what we got in this book was the print stories of the 4 minute video stories that Bob did on TV.

Once again there is enough good stories in this book where it is worth your time but if you want to hear about American stories with a little more depth check out The Moth podcast or This American Life.

Immortals' Requiem

Immortals' Requiem - Vincent Bobbe The world we live in is not what it seems. There’s a hidden world within our own where magic is real and all the creatures from our dreams and nightmares exist. Giants, elves, zombies, werewolves, vampires, dragons and wizards are real but they are dying.and so is the world’s magic. There are some that are trying to stop the magical apocalypse but a new problem makes worse.

Things get complicated when a giant returns to take over the world after supposedly being dead for 2,000 years. There is hope as a mythological warrior appears to hunt the giant. As the streets of Manchester turn red with blood it’s up to a few magical creatures to save both realities and find a way to keep magic alive.

My description for Immortal’s Requiem by Vincent Bobbe is not very good. This book is more complex then just saying it’s an apocalypse story. If I have any complaint about this book it was that it should have been divided into two books. The characters are deep and they all have their own tales to tell and its fascinating to see how each story fits into the big picture. While reading this book I found myself feeling compassion for the villains as I was rooting for the heroes to succeed. For instance when you get to know the main villain in the story you see that he is pure evil but at the same time you see what others want to use his him for. I felt sorry for him because I thought that this guy had no other choice then to be a villain.

Some of the other characters have great stories as well such as Mark Jones who became immortal and found that it wasn’t what he thought it would be. At times in the story you want to hate Mark because he’s a murderer but as you hear more of his story and his lost love you feel for him. Another great character is Grimnir. Grimnir is a warrior but you see how out of place he is in the modern world, he tries to complete his quest and come to terms with the fact that his whole life was dedicated to one thing and he doesn’t know how he would fit in the world otherwise. At one point Grimnir sees a horror movie and its funny to see how he reacts to it and uses what he saw in his quest.

My favorite character is Cam the elf, you see this character go through a total metamorphosis. He starts as a manipulative drunk but becomes a hero as he has to deal with hardship. The harder things are for him the more he wants to do the right thing. He’s a drunk in the beginning because he knows his race will be dying off in the near future. In my favorite scene in the book his father points out that even though their destruction is imminent they have to keep on trying to survive because by giving up you show that you are afraid to live. Words to live by.

Immortal’s Requiem is .an epic fantasy adventure novel with elements of horror, dark humor and some amusing references to Lord Of The Rings thrown in for good measure. What I admired most in this book was how the story starts off simple and expands as it adds each character’s own sub plots to it like a jigsaw puzzle. Vincent Bobbe has created a broad mythological Universe with a lot of possibilities for future stories. If you love fantasy novels this is a masterpiece that you don’t want to pass up.

The Abyss Beyond the Reflection

The Abyss Beyond the Reflection - Micah Castle The Abyss Beyond The Reflection by Micah Castle is an anthology for readers that love the bizarre and love hearing about terrifying realities within our own. Within this book lies 10 tales of horror, science fiction and weird fiction. Each of these stories uses horrific imagery to bring it to life along with characters that come across as real people.

In the first story called The Abyss Beyond The Reflection, you get a look at how technology and being obsessed with celebrities can be a dangerous combination. In the future fans of celebrities can view the celebrities lives in real-time using virtual reality. Though sometimes if you get too close to the people you admire you see a reality that is too horrifying to comprehend. I loved the concept here and the idea of how even though the lead character has a pathetic life what he finds in the life of a celebrity is far worse.

Another story I enjoyed was Three White Demons. This one follows an unhappy college professor who is tipped off to a major discovery by a friend. At an archaeological site there are three white monoliths that may be the key to other dimensions. I loved the scientific explanation used to describe the discovery. I also loved how the Professor looks at this as the key to changing from his dull life to a reality that you would see in a Science Fiction novel. What he finds is not what he was hoping for, I loved the ending of this story which shows that some things are better left unknown.

The White Sea is a story that has a H.P. Lovecraft feel to it. It’s about a down on his luck author who after the death of his parents takes a trip on a schooner in hopes of inspiration. He soon discovers that the ship’s captain has an agenda and serves a mysterious God. The writing in this story is brilliant, we hear the whole story from the main character’s viewpoint and the descriptions of the sea demons and the protagonist’s reaction to everything makes this a memorable piece of fiction.

Qaeceit’s Mirror is a different kind of vampire tale. This one follows the story of a college student who has a new roommate who sleeps during the day and has some odd habits. I loved the vampire’s origin story and would love to see a longer work made from this one. I figured in the beginning that this was going to be a vampire story yet the way its told made it feel fresh and new. I guess there is always a way to put an original spin on an old idea.

Reading The Abyss Beyond the Reflection reminded me of how much fun horror and weird fiction can be. The way everything is described brought the stories to life and every character showed amazing depth. Micah Castle’s writing demonstrates that he has a strong passion for his craft and if you love horror fiction you won’t want to pass this book up.

Lightning Child

Lightning Child - Martha Pound Miller Sparrow wasn't sure why she was compelled to go to an Arizona canal during a thunderstorm. She followed the urge anyway and was struck by lightning. Since then she's been hearing the voice of Joan of Arc and discovered  she's pregnant even though she's still a virgin. Sparrow is part of a prophecy, she is the mother of the new Messiah.

Not everyone is happy about this, a Cardinal in the Vatican hires someone to kill the young pregnant woman. A priest named Kilian has also had a vision and goes to find and help the girl. There are dark forces at work though and the world may not be ready for the second coming.

Lightning Child by Martha Pound Miller  was kind of a mixed bag for me, I love the characters and how they changed throughout the story and the story itself was excellent. For instance I loved that the mother of the new Messiah came from a rough background and things get worse for her as the story moves along. You see her go through the hardships that teenage girls face when they become pregnant. She wants to do what's right but she isn't sure what the right thing is and you see her become a much stronger person do to her hardships.

In the case of Kilian you see him in the beginning as someone who has lost his faith and is at a low point in life. When he has his vision life gets worse for him but he never stops trying to do the task that he was given. I thought it was interesting how he is trying to do the right thing for Sparrow and is still met with judgement from others. People in the story think that he got sparrow pregnant but despite people not believing in him he still does the right thing, which is why I admired the character.

The down side of this book was that there isn't much action or suspense, I liked the main character's stories but there was never a moment where I thought they wouldn't have a happy ending. There is a couple of action scenes that just didn't seem to work and another one that didn't make sense. The story has a couple of great villains but I never felt they had a chance to stop the protagonists. What I was wondering was if the bad guys would face some kind of redemption and that is where the story got interesting.

Lightning Child by Martha Pound Miller is a book that has its moments. This is a story about Faith change, perseverance and redemption. There is a good message here about how it doesn't matter what background you come from, you are important no matter what. Another message is that even in the darkest moments there will always be a light if you look for it. If you like great characters and a great message, you will like this book.

Bitten

Bitten - Alan       Moore The whole world is in disarray and Italy may be getting the worst of it. In the future Italy has left the EU, their economy is shrinking and their National debt is rising. The only financial market in the world that is doing well is the black market. The Russian Mafia is trying to find a buyer for a stolen rare painting which sets off an important chain of events.

Organized crime and financial problems in the world aren’t even the planets biggest problem. Humans are ruining the environment and the damage is irreversible. The ozone layer is depleting, global warming is on the rise and Nature has had enough. The planet starts fighting back by using the deadliest creatures on Earth to kill every person alive.

Bitten by Alan Moore is not an easy book to describe. The reason I was curious about it was because I couldn’t figure out what genre it was from its description. Even when I looked at some of the reviews for it they said that this book doesn’t fir neatly into any genre. I had to give Bitten points for originality right off the bat since it didn’t fit neatly into any category. Name a genre and this book has some elements of it: horror, Science Fiction, Detective novel, Erotica and Thriller, it’s all here. There is a lot going on in this novel, almost too much.

The novel had the feeling of a TV series with all of the different plot lines and the length of the book. What I liked most is all the information given on the effects of global warming. Alan Moore is trying to entertain you with good characters and a lot of action, but most importantly he’s trying to point out the repercussions of not taking care of our planet. If you are looking for a book that goes deeper than your usual novel into a topic that concerns us all then this is a good book for you.

Gypsy Blood

Gypsy Blood - Jeff Gunhus Who would have thought that helping an old man being attacked by three albinos in tragedy masks could go so wrong? Down on his luck writer Corbin Stewart is living in Paris and was trying to do a good deed, little did he know that it would lead to a whirlwind of horrific events. The man he was trying to save was a powerful gypsy named Gregor and his blood and part of his soul has now infected Corbin. Now Corbin is in the middle of a gang war between two blood cults, the T'acho Rasa and the Fantomes de la Nuit.

Corbin isn't the only victim of the war. A woman named Margot and police detective Besson are also involved in circumstances beyond their control. Everyone has their own agenda and no matter who wins the war between the cults the result will be mass destruction from a supernatural event.

Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus is a paranormal thriller that starts with a simple idea and expands into a complex tale about morals, making choices, dealing with a horrific past and hope for a new beginning. I loved how the three main characters in this book all have points where they do something bad but they also attempt to do what's right. Even the villains in the book show that they have a compassionate side. When you hear their back stories you understand why they are how they are, even though you may not agree with them.

One of my favorite scenes was when we hear the backstory of Alexis who is the head of the Fantomes de la Nuit. At this point in the book you see him as pure evil but as you hear his story you understand him more and see where he is coming from. At one point Alexis hears about the T'acho Rasa torturing his people, Alexis has committed some horrible acts himself but you see the anguish he experiences over how his people are treated and your opinion of him changes. The lead character Corbin starts to feel empathy for him but then decides that Alexis isn't worthy of redemption. This left me as the reader wondering: "Is he really not worthy of redemption? There are moments in the book where you experience that for all the characters and even the characters wonder if they are worthy of it. The characters in Gypsy Blood are fascinating and as you read on they show you that there is more to them then you see in the beginning of the story.

I also love the exotic settings of Gypsy Blood with parts of it set in the Paris Catacombs and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The settings adds a certain mood and the book comes across as highly original since it focuses on history that I only knew very little about. You learn about how badly the Romani people were treated and how African Albinos are used for their body parts because people believe that they're bones are magic.You see how certain people are affected by this and you feel for them even when the victims become villains. Jeff Gunhus has written an action packed character driven thriller that you'll find hard to put down.

Yoga For Beginners: A Simple Guide to the Best Yoga Styles and Exercises for Relaxation, Stretching, and Good Health

Yoga For Beginners: A Simple Guide to the Best Yoga Styles and Exercises for Relaxation, Stretching, and Good Health - Ntathu Allen People get the wrong idea about yoga. Some people think of it as a new age religion and avoid it all together. Others see the poses and think it looks too hard or too easy and never try it. Then we have the people who look at all the different styles of yoga and are overwhelmed and don’t try because they don’t know what style is right for them.

Learning yoga can be difficult but if you’re willing you may find that a little work will lead to several benefits. Among them is feeling more relaxed, a clearer mind and more energy. All you need is 5 minutes a day to practice yoga. Ntathu Allen’s Yoga For Beginners can show you how simple exercises can change your life.

What I like most about Ntathu Allen’s book is that she takes something that is complex and breaks it down into something simple that makes sense. You don’t need a mat or instructors you just need to take a little time for your self. This book starts by giving examples of stressful events in life and then yoga poses that can help you deal with the stress. Several exercises can be done while laying in bed before you start the day. She also gets into stretches you can do at your desk at work, poses for the end of the day and even ways to help heal injuries.

This may be a short book but it tells you all you need to start a yoga practice. It also has descriptions and drawings to show you the right way along with case studies to show how it has helped others. I’ve been doing yoga for a while but I still found helpful hints in this book. In particular I liked how Ntathu gets into how learning to breathe correctly and meditation can help you deal with stress and other issues such as grief. Even paying attention to your posture can help you deal with your every day life and this book shows you how to improve on that.

When you look at what Ntathu Allen teaches, you would think that there is no way these simple exercises can make my life easier, but it can. If you try the techniques in this book and stick with it they really will make a difference. This book may be geared towards women but men can learn a lot from it also. This book teaches that you can feel mentally and physically better if you’re willing to learn a few new techniques.

Battle of the Soul

Battle of the Soul - Carl Alves Life is not good for Andy Lorenzo. He’s overweight, has no friends, no social skills, he drinks too much and he gambles away his money. He does have one skill though. He’s the most powerful exorcist in the world and demons fear him. Unlike the old exorcism rites that priests use, Andy can enter people’s souls to fight and kill the demon possessing it.

Andy was raised by the church but he isn’t necessarily religious and some priests don’t like him, but they can’t argue with the results of his work. He’s destroyed hundreds of demons but his luck is about to change. His newest client is a young girl named Kate but as he enters her soul he finds that there is more than one demon waiting for him. He then finds out that the church has kept secrets from him which will change his life. He’s in for the fight of his life and he’s going to need all the help he can get as he decides what’s really important to him.

Battle Of The Soul by Carl Alves is a supernatural thriller that’s a little different from other horror novels based on exorcisms. While the church and religion does factor into the story it isn’t the main plot. This is about how a looser finds that he is much more than he thought and then he is left with a choice of what to become as he finds the secret to his powers. My favorite part of this book was Andy. He’s the ultimate underdog and he has just one thing he’s good at, killing demons. Andy reminded me of Ash in the Evil Dead movies but we do find out that Andy has a big heart and it’s his biggest weapon.. We hear of him bringing candy and comics to orphans and how he plays with Kate when she is in remission from her possession and we see that even though he is a misfit he cares. The author shows Andy as flawed but when the chips are down he always does the right thing. Andy is an easy character to relate to because he’s just a regular guy playing the hand of cards that life has dealt him.

As I was reading Battle Of The Soul I found myself thinking that this book has the feel of a superhero story. It looks and sounds like it would be a horror novel but it’s more of an action packed thriller. The fight scenes are well described almost to the point where you feel the author could have left a little to the imagination. Also the demons come across more like super villains and not overly terrifying. This isn’t to say that this was a bad read, it just came across as more action than horror. This book is a fresh spin on an idea that we see a lot in the world of horror. I think the concept of a man entering a soul and becoming a superhero is a great idea and I hope Carl revisits this idea in future books.

Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life... and Death

Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life... and Death - Ian McKinney Melville is a vampire but he’s trying to quit drinking blood. Last night he may have killed someone but at least he feels better than he has in a while and he found someone to love. Peter is a man who can’t get over the death of his wife but hopefully his guardian angel can help him even if the angel looks mysteriously like a pigeon. Lathom is a hitman who has been double crossed and wants revenge but a man he tried to kill has something sinister in store for him. Kelly is an evil man who loves to hurt people and create chaos but his luck is running out. Last but not least we have Catherine whose life has been spent in a mental hospital since the murder of her son but now she may have the knowledge she needs for vengeance.

These five stories have two things in common, they all take place in Liverpool England and they are all part of Ian McKinney’s Scouse Gothic. I was interested in reading this book because I enjoy reading vampire fiction but this book was not what I expected. We start with a vampire but vampires in Scouse Gothic aren’t the same as they are in other books. This book doesn’t fit easily in any genre. It starts as a horror novel but becomes more of a human drama with horror and mystery elements.

Several times while reading this book I thought to myself: “Where is this story going and who is the main character?” I got the impression that the author was much more interested in creating interesting characters that you don’t meet every day than making a long cohesive story. The best part of the story is learning how each character is connected and how they have influenced each other. This is a different type of book but if you love character driven fiction it’s a great read.

The characters are complex and no one acts like you think they should act. For instance Melville may be a vampire but he has no fangs and can go out in daylight. He’s immortal but he’s just trying to live a normal life like everyone else except he has memories going back to the 1800’s. Some of my favorite scenes in this book had Melville walking down streets and remembering how that street was in the past and mourning the people who use to live there who have long since died. You feel for these characters even when they’re doing bad things. My favorite character was Catherine because everyone around her thinks she’s stupid and she uses this to her advantage. Catherine puts on an act for the general public and knows how to get what she wants, such as the knowledge to build a bomb to get revenge against the man who killed her son.

While reading Scouse Gothic I found myself thinking of the movie Pulp Fiction. That movie was different from other movies of the time, plot wasn’t as important as creating memorable characters and putting them in odd situations. Scouse Gothic is the same way, all of the characters are fascinating and they all brought a different element to the novel. Scouse Gothic has the feel of a great ongoing series and I’m happy to see that there are two other books in the series.