Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review

“Where Man and Monster Meet” is a collection of short stories written by Eric Tamburino, who is an up and coming author. The reader is taken on a journey from the very first story, “The City of the Lost” to the last story entitled “Where Man and Monster Meet ”, all under the guise of fairy tales and fantasy. The underlying truth each story holds, will give the reader a moment of pause to contemplate what makes a person who they are. Filled with moral dilemmas and tough choices, each story will take you on a pilgrimage of self-revelation. What would I do? This question is one in which I found asking myself throughout.

In each short story, the characters were well developed and believable Eric’s style of writing naturally woos the reader into each of his worlds. His ability to describe the worlds in which his character lives is outstanding. The endings to each of these well written short stories are unexpected and invoke an emotional response from the reader. 

Below is a quick synopsis of each short story. 

“The City of the Lost”

The protagonist, Matthias, an actor, lives in a city where everyone must wear a mask. The mask delineates the social status of Perdius’ population. No one knows when or why the population began to wear these masks. As the story continues, Matthias meets Anastasia and becomes smitten with her. Their romance continues until the pressure to remove his mask becomes too much for Matthias and their relationship is strained. The relevancy of wearing a mask still permeates in today’s society, perhaps even more so because the sophistication of  these masks make it difficult to see people for who they are. 

“The Legend of Polaris”

Think magic, romance, and friendship and the legend of Polaris, the North star. This is another thought provoking tale of two young men Christopher and David whose friendship is struggling over a beautiful princess named Adrienne. The story is set in Loredana, a small city with the Polaris mountain overlooking it. Despite his schoolmate and friends’ persistent nagging to ignore the princess, David continues to pursue her. The ending of this story, prompts the reader to contemplate what one would give to be with the one they love. 

“The Price of Beauty”

A city under siege with a young prince at the helm, a princess that yearned for a gift that cursed her for the rest of her life.  What should Prince Alexander’s decision be? To honor or to allow jealousy to get the best of him.  Princess Cassandra’s gift of  immortality, eternal youth and beauty granted to her by an enchantress overshadows her every thought. An element of palpable truth that resonates with audiences today gives readers another thought provoking tale insisting the readers look within themselves, do you see the monster?

“The Wolf” 

Werewolves, a grieving knight, a family protecting their own, including love and an unlikely friendship all center around Daniel, the protagonist, is not who he seems to be. Joshua and his wife Nora, a family living on a small pig farm, offer him shelter and food. Throughout this story, more details of Daniel unravel exposing him for who he really is. Susan their daughter begins to fall in love with Daniel. Deception from a long time family friend leads Daniel to battle the greatest of all werewovles. Tapping into our instincts to protect the ones we love at all costs, secrets revealed and decisions made, will keep the reader at the edge of their seats, turning page after page, as quickly as they can. 

“The Demon of St. Jude’s Abby”

Jude a harsh master, a kidnapped princess, a prince who is searching for her and a wayward demon dragon, makes this fairy tale an enjoyable read with a surprising ending.  Think ‘Beauty and the Beast’ meets the creative mind of Eric Tamburino! Set in an abandoned Abby, Princess Marianna awakes to find herself in an unknown place. The grim master who keeps himself hidden from her view, yet watches her from afar, sends chills up her spine. Day and night she continues to hope that her prince will soon find her, but as the days turn into weeks, she begins to lose hope. But hope prevails and love grows, demonstrating that true love holds no bounds. 

“Where Man and Monster Meet” 

An unnamed city, a beautiful specter named Chastity, a love lost and a man searching the depth of his soul. Perhaps odyssey is the best way to describe this last and final short story. This fairy tale will conjure up different emotions to different readers. For me, my eyes teared as I read about the journey the man was upon.  Eric’s insight and ability to write about the pain and loss, and the frailty of humanity is undeniably beautiful.  This hauntingly deep piece will cause you, the reader, to ponder your own existence, what makes you, you.  “People imagine the soul as an unseen heart, something which can be broken and crushed, but they are wrong. The soul is like blood. It moves through everything and gives life.” (Tamburino 214) 

“Where Man and Monster Meet,” is a must read if you enjoy fairytales and fantasies. Below is a link to Eric’s website. You can also find his books online at

The Canadian Shield Issues 1 & 2

Blending Christianity and comic books seems an unlikely match, but Rick Piper at Cross Comics has done just that with his comic book series “The Canadian Shield.” Although there is a Jesus vibe to his stories, it’s not preachy. Rather, he uses various elements and plot structures to introduce an angel messenger from God who sends Canadian Shield off on missions of moral pursuit. But I am getting ahead of myself…

In his first issue of Canadian Shield, the reader is introduced to his protagonist, Man Like Cougar, the name reflects the character Indigenous heritage. Man Like Cougar, begins his journey with Jesus, but it’s not that simple. Add time travel and a suit that allows the wearer to become an enhanced version of himself with super powers then pepper in heroic adventures blessed by God, makes this comic book an interesting read!

Canadian Shield #2 uses the same protagonist, Man Like Cougar. In this issue he continues to receive heavenly orders and meets the antagonist, Toxico. This character is on a mission to destroy a nuclear power plant, possibly killing millions. Man Like Cougar aka the Canadian Shield is sent to stop Toxico. Throughout the narrative, Piper touches upon Christian theology, but again he does a good job of not shoving it down one’s throat, so to speak. Once again Canadian Shield, a superhero for God, takes down Toxico one punch at a time!

The Positives.

Rick Piper’s desire to combine his love for superheroes and his love for Jesus is appreciated. I enjoyed the quirkiness of his character’s and his creativity in the overall story arcs. The basic superhero plot structure is duly noted in both issues. The pacing in both issues was reasonable and it had enough dialogue/action to keep the reader engaged. I preferred the coloring, panel layout and dialogue boxes in issue 2, however, issue 1 idiosyncratic’s coloring, panel layout and lettering at times diverted my attention from the story.

Areas that need work.

The most notable area in issue 1 that should be addressed is the different styles of fonts used as well as the many typographical and grammatical errors. An editor would have been able to help in this area. Issue 2 on the other hand did not have those errors. I enjoyed the addition of Piper Pulpit, but the overall tone and word usage could use some tightening up. To take these stories to the next level and reach a wider audience, a solid comic book editor could really help.

Overall both issues were an interesting read and since I know the creator, I know how much of his heart and soul he puts into his work. I look forward to reading his next issue of Canadian Shield!

The Berge Sisters Tour The Neitherswarth – Book Review

Author JL DuRona’s love for mythical, macabre and peculiar does not disappoint in his fantastical tale entitled, “The Berge Sisters Tour The Neitherswarth.” He received his BA in Children’s Literature from Castleton University in 2007 and earned his MFA from the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2011.
If you are a fan of books like Goosebumps, by R.L.Stine and The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier, then you are in for a wonderful journey into the wondrous world of the The Berge Sisters!
Stepsister’s Cal and Lacey have a tumultuous beginning but as they embark on a crazy journey into a world unknown located in the depths of her great uncle’s mysterious mansion their relationship grows into love and respect. Monster’s, spiritual forces and relatable themes are all found in this well-written, thoroughly engaging chapter book for the young adult population. Although, as an adult, I enjoyed the complexities of the characters and the interesting twists and turns that held my attention throughout.
JL DuRona birthed a wonderfully paced young adult story that will keep even adults turning the pages. His characters were well crafted, likable as well as relatable. The plot was suspenseful and engaging. He used contemporary themes such as step families, sibling rivalry and death of a parent and was able to write them in a way young adults can relate. His use of prose was brilliant! All in all, I give his first book five stars and I look forward to his next book!

Book Review: The Revenant and the Tomb

One of my favorite past-times is to read independent books, either comics, novella’s or novels. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading a very cool novella by one of our frequent visitors to our weekly youtube stream. I did a short review of his work and wanted to share it with you. The book, entitled, “The Revenant and the Tomb”, by Herman P. Hunter can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A Fantasy, Lord of the Ring Vibe!

Venture into the fantastical world in which magic, demons and a mysterious strange young man named Halsedric embark on an adventure led by a weathered old guide who just wants to get paid. The story begins in a squalid tavern as Halsedric convinces Drahm to take him to the Horn of Torgiv, a mystical mountain that Durham has led others before, only to find their demise. The old guide assumes that Halsedric is after the riches supposedly hidden in the depths of the cold, dark tomb. However, Halsedric is not who he seems to be and is after much more than prosperity. The agreement is made. The time is set. The journey begins. Other notable characters that join the two unlikely compadres is Tulvgir, a Wodeman whose muscular build and toughness makes him seemingly invincible. They are also joined by a young woman, Herodiani, an Elanni, she is an expert hunt and other mystical arts.. The four begin their expedition toward the dark and diabolical tomb.

The character interaction along with supernatural events kept my attention throughout this well written novella. Hunter uses a distinct eye dialect especially with Drahm and Tulvgir which helps to give the story a “Lord of the Rings”vibe. The story’s plot, pacing and overall tone demonstrates Hunter’s keen ability not only as a writer but a significant story teller. You will not be disappointed!

Book Review: Melvin #2

Independent comic book creators continue to flood the comic book market. Which in my opinion is fantastic! Recently I picked up a book entitled, Melvin #1 created and written by Timothy Lee Olson. This is Tim’s first comic book and he put in a sincere effort in bringing his characters to the pages!

The positives.

The story is told in linear narration, the basic plot structure of a good guy sent to rescue a girl, is a familiar one, however there are a few surprising twists and not all is what it seems.

The main character, Melvin, is a cool warrior archetype who is given a mission by his Master. The mission is to rescue Princess Alice, a rebel archetype who goes against her father the King by sneaking around and winds up in trouble. As the story unfolds we learn that Melvin has incredible strength and Alice’s beauty does more than turn a head.

The pacing of this 37 page story is good, the layout of panels, and coloring were all interesting.The protagonist Melvin battles many beasts and cultists from another world while trying to rescue Alice and return to their world. Alice surprises Melvin by fighting her way out of captivity and battles monsters and cultists in her escape. The two meet up and plan their return. The story itself is interesting and has some dynamic elements to keep the reader engaged.

Areas that need work:

The most prominent area that should be addressed is the dialogue and the amount of information given during the narration. In both instances, an editor would have been able to help shape these areas by decreasing unnecessary words to make the statements stronger.. For example, when Melvin is assessing the situation he says, “I feel I must hurry”, take the words “I feel” out and say “I must hurry.” The dialogue continues with this “…I don’t think she has a lot of time left to live.” Again, take out “I do not think” and just state “She has no time left to live.” As a reader, I want to be able to get to the point of what is happening. It is a common mistake that amatour author’s make but something that is easily rectified by using an editor.

The overall story arc was good, there was a conflict that was addressed and the best part for me was a cliffhanger at the end. I will now have to get Melvin #2 to see what happens. This is an action packed comic book with a 1980 flair!

Book Review: Crimebusters #1

Scott Harris-King is a comic book creator that brings us a hero from the Golden age of comics. Chuck Chandler, a hero initially introduced in the Boy Comic series, makes his return in this jammed pack comic book. Featuring Chuck Chandler and Scott’s original character,Trixie Trouble, the contentious duo take on crime like no other! The Crime Buster, Issue one picks up from when the Boy Comic series left off with issue #119.

One thing I really enjoyed while reading this comic book was the detail in which Scott offers not only for his character design, but the background information found at the end of the book. Scott put’s substantial effort in so that his readers can get to know the characters by offering a brief bio for each character. You have a good sense of whose, who, before you even delve into this fast, paced fun tale.

The art style is in the likes of the classic Archie and Scooby Doo comics. The black and white art fills each page with action. The caption boxes are placed well within each panel. Some of the page layouts were quite creative, they may not be to everyone’s liking but I enjoyed the freedom and diversity.

The Crimebuster comic offers the reader a walk down memory lane. The story is set in the 1950’s at a college called Curtiss Tech. Scott brings us an exciting story filled with mystery and adventure that provides the reader with more than a 20 minute read!

Check out Scott’s website and order a copy of The Crimbusters #1 for yourself. He also has a digital copy free!

Book Review Balor #2

By Pearcy Snyder

  • CATEGORY – Amateur Comic Book
  • Publisher: Superior Comics
  • Writer: Peter Harte
  • Artist: Muir
  • Letterer: Paul; Carroll (?)
  • Colorist: Grace K
  • Editor: ?
  • Page count: 19 story pages

One of the first books I received this year for review and it was 8 months late. While delays are always disappointing the real payoff is when you get a book worth waiting for. Was Balor worth the wait? Let’s discuss.

Story: The story centers around Sean James who’s brother was murdered. He has also found himself the recipient of super natural powers after visiting the shrine of Balor, according to the page one summary.

When the actual issue starts we witness a ‘Mythical’ named Lucia getting interrogated by two agents of SCMP. I assume shes an important character from issue one, but theres not enough exposition there to be certain.

Ultimately – the agents back off a little from Lucia so not to kill her during interrogation, and we learn that they are members of Alpha Team and they’ve been assigned ‘Balor Duty.’

We are then introduced to Sean, who is anxiously trying to learn more about SCMP. Though its not made clear in the issue, I assume SCMP has something to do with the murder of Sean’s brother. Sean has scoured the internet looking for information on SCMP but gets annoyed as the internet appears to believe he’s spouting a conspiracy theory. He also gets annoyed as ‘spam bots’ start posting to his threads.

Sean, using the powers he gained from the Balor Shrine, hits the streets looking for the ‘Don’. I assume he is connected to SCMP, though this not made clear and ends up in a battle with Alpha Team. Sean is more powerful than they can handle, they manage to surround him and insist on his surrender. In his efforts to escape, he falls, although its hard to tell exactly what happened by the artwork, and lands on a pillow he created by using his power in an alley way. His power appears to be similar to the Green Lantern’s powers, manifesting physical ‘power objects’.

From there we are introduced to others from ‘Mary’s’, a public business similar to a restaurant or bar, but again this unclear. Ultimately, they express an interest in training Sean to better use his powers and offer him a new outfit that looks fantastic and has enhancements to assist with Sean’s power.

As the book closes, we see someone, presumably someone from Mary’s, securing a trainer for Sean.

Ease of Reading:

It’s a little hard to come in on issue two without a good summary of issue one. Never the less, there’s plenty of meat on this bone. Harte is building a world and its interesting. The scripting felt a little too stiff at times but the plot comes across as needed. Unfortunately, the lettering makes it really hard to piece together and understand the story line.

Art – While there are several points in which the art shows flashes of brilliance, there was also a lot of art that just didn’t seem to match the story. It struggles to match the intensity of the action as well as the serenity of the quiet moments. While I see lots of potential, its one of the reasons we’ve listed this as a ACB. Although not considered a mainstream comic, its definitely worth checking out!

Lettering: I found the lettering to be a little tough to read. The sizing was inconsistent, balloons are often cramped and forced into the panels, and there are times where the letterer has opted to position balloons on angles. Overall, this was likely my least favorite part of this book.

Colors: The colors are the highlight of this package. Though they aren’t up to the mainstream standards, there’s a lot of great looking color here.

Production: There seems to be some issues with a white border line at the top of some pages.

The over all layout forced the comic to end on the inside back cover. This isn’t a deal breaker but it was unexpected and unusual.

The cover is repeated, albeit darkened, on the back. I would’ve liked to have seen almost anything else there for example, company logo, alternative art, story summary, hype paragraph.

I couldn’t actually find a credit section in the book. There is a reference to Harte, Muir, and Grace K on the cover but there’s no way to know who did what on that alone outside of presumptions. Going through the campaign page on Kickstarter I’ve tried my best to assign the proper credits (someone let me know if they know differently than what we’ve posted).

Final Conclusion: While theres a lot here to work with, I feel like the team has a way to go before they are ready for prime time, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. I feel like this is a project worth watching to see where it goes and how it improves over time. I don’t know if I will be buying issue 3, but I’lll certainly check it out when it launches. If there are improvements to the overall ‘book’ I’ll definitely check them out again.

Final Grade: C-