For Your Reading and Listening Pleasure

My boys have 2.5 days left of school, and they are chomping at the bit to be done! Summer is upon us, and so is the time for summer reading adventures.

For your middle grade reader, Undead Ifs is now available in paperback. You can also find it for Kindle.


Landon and Broden have been successful in defeating Gage twice. With him safely trapped in the hourglass and locked away, they can go on with their lives without a care in the world.

And the first thing they are going to do is enjoy a banquet with Slade and his Ifs where the brothers are the guests of honor. Now that the If village and the brothers are safe, a whole day full of food, fun, friends, and flying on hawks is just what they need to move on from the battles.

The boys discover more than good times hanging out with the Ifs, however. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that something sinister is buried just beneath the surface of celebration and fun. Something is in the trees, hiding in the shadows, something that may or may not be undead.

Could Gage be behind whatever evil lurks in the woods? Or is this a new danger? Join Landon and Broden in their new adventure to discover what wicked thing threatens their world.


Undead Ifs is the third book in The Ifs series. If you’re looking for the other two, they can be found here.

While not available quite yet, The Ifs (the first book in the series) will soon be available as an audiobook. Here’s a little teaser to get you excited about its release.



I hope you all have an amazing summer filled with fun. I also hope you find some downtime to curl up with a good book.

Movie Review Monday

I hope my American friends are having an amazing Memorial Day weekend!

The Shape of Water (2017)

I really like Guillermo del Toro movies. He does such an amazing job of balancing stories and surprises. I’ve wanted to see The Shape of Water for a while, then when I found out it won some awards, I wanted to see it even more.

I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this film. I can certainly see why it won the awards it did. It’s a beautiful movie, with great use of colors, music, lighting, and camera angles. It touches on a lot of social issues, including racism, classism, and sexuality, among others.

The film also takes a common horror film trope and turns it on its head—well, sort of. It takes the notion of the monster being sympathetic and expands it (this is actually quite common in recent horror movies, so that’s why I say sort of).

If you’ve watched any classic monster movies, including The Mummy (1932), Dracula (1931), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), etc., then you know there’s a notion that the monster is coming in to society to take the attractive women away. The monsters are dangerous and evil, and they must be vanquished by a hero, but there’s also a sense that they are misunderstood and lonely—if they only had the love of a good woman, they could turn their world around.

Sure, the monsters don’t necessarily go about wooing the woman in the right way. And they are a them instead of an us, so they have to be avoided/vanquished at all costs. The women are pawns in the game of love between the monster and the hero, so they rarely have a choice in who wins them, although social conventions say it has to be the human.

The Shape of Water takes that notion of the monster being lonely and misunderstood and runs with it. It shows us how sympathetic the monster can be and how it is treated unfairly and cruelly. As is typical of horror movies, there are characters who see the monster as nothing but a monster—a them—and do what is necessary to keep it in its place. But then there’s Elisa, who sees the monster as so much more.

This, of course, takes traditional horror movie tropes and flips them around. She’s not afraid of the monster. She doesn’t need to be rescued from it. She’s the one who does the rescuing.

I don’t want to give too much away for those of you who haven’t seen the film. I had no problems with the social issues the film portrays or the changing of the tropes, but while I was watching it, it felt weird to me. And as I’m writing this, I think the reason it felt weird is because it turns expectations on their head—a trait that del Toro is really, really good at.

The film is 123 minutes, and parts of it really felt like they dragged. If you had asked me right after watching The Shape of Water, I probably would have wrinkled my nose and said it wasn’t worth the watch. Now, however, the more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and pick apart all the horror traditions it undermines. And that is the sign of a good movie.

Who else has seen this film? What did you think?

Summer Reading


Summer is right around the corner. I’m looking forward to it, and I know my boys are too. They are counting down the days when school will be out. Our days will be filled with fun, baseball, and visits from family. There will probably be late nights and movies also.

But through it all, we need to find time to read. Studies have shown that kids who don’t read over the summer will see their skills stagnate or decline. That’s scary. It means they’ll have to work that much harder when the school year starts to get back to where they ended the previous year. But there’s an easy remedy: reading.

During the school year, kids’ days are filled with required readings; stories and books that are more often than not assigned to them so they can learn some lesson. But in the summer, that’s when freedom prevails. That’s when they get to read what they want. It’s a very exciting time.

I’ve never been one to abide by age or grade recommendations when it comes to reading. If my boys think a book looks interesting and fun, I’ll let them get it—even if the vocabulary is outside of their range. After all, that’s how kids discover new words. If they have a question about the content, I’m right there to answer it for them. That’s how they learn. That’s how they expand their horizons.

I’ve never been afraid of my kids reading graphic novels and comic books. There are benefits to reading graphic novels and comic books, including fostering a love of reading and enjoying new stories or classic stories. The same can be said about audiobooks. There are a variety of benefits for kids listening to audiobooks, and I feel I should encourage this more in my household.

Getting your hands on books over the summer is as easy as heading to the library. I get it: books can be expensive. But libraries offer a plethora of books at no cost. And my boys love going to the library and picking out which books they want to read. You can even find audiobooks there.

Reading should be an activity that your kids want to do, not something they have to do. Fostering a love of reading in kids can be accomplished by letting them pick which books they want to read. You can force them to sit down for a certain amount of time each day, or you can find a time (say, right before bed) to enjoy a story as a family. That’s what we do in our house. This helps my kids keep their reading skills top notch, let’s us spend some time together, and helps them unwind after a fun-filled day. It helps me too!

Movie Review Monday

Terminal (2018)

It was another slow movie-rental weekend. My spouse decided on this film because he’s a Margot Robbie fan. The trailer didn’t look terrible, so we decided to give it a go. The boys had no desire to watch this movie, so they didn’t.

Terminal does an interesting job of using color throughout. There is a definite noir feel to the film. There’s mystery and intrigue and betrayal and death.

The movie wasn’t awful, but it could have been a lot better. I had it figured out from the beginning, but I don’t know if that’s because I watch too many movies or because it was just that easy to figure out. There was a small twist in the film (that I won’t give away), but it wasn’t ground-breaking shocking. My mouth didn’t fall open at the reveal. I felt more like, “Meh. I guess that can work.”

As a revenge film, it works very well. Annie does a great job of laying out her plans, being patient, and then seeing the fruits of her labor. The film uses Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland throughout to create a surreal and somewhat irrational landscape, and it works. I’m a huge fan of that book, so I found that part interesting.

The film is 90 minutes long, and it didn’t feel burdensome. There was enough intrigue and mystery to keep the story moving forward. There was one point when it flashed back to 3 weeks previously, and I wasn’t quite sure when we got back to the present. That may have been the point to add to the surreal feel, but I’m not sure. It didn’t make it difficult to follow the action, I just thought it was weird.

If you enjoy noir films and visually interesting moves, Terminal might be the film for you. The story wasn’t lacking, but it was predictable (which is probably expected in noir). It wasn’t a huge waste of time for a Friday evening.

Anyone else watch Terminal? What did you think?

New Book Release: Undead Ifs

Undead Ifs is now available on Kindle. It is the third book in The Ifs series, and it is a special request from my boys.


Book 3 in The Ifs series

Landon and Broden have been successful in defeating Gage twice. With him safely trapped in the hourglass and locked away, they can go on with their lives without a care in the world.

And the first thing they are going to do is enjoy a banquet with Slade and his Ifs where the brothers are the guests of honor. Now that the If village and the brothers are safe, a whole day full of food, fun, friends, and flying on hawks is just what they need to move on from the battles.

The boys discover more than good times hanging out with the Ifs, however. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that something sinister is buried just beneath the surface of celebration and fun. Something is in the trees, hiding in the shadows, something that may or may not be undead.

Could Gage be behind whatever evil lurks in the woods? Or is this a new danger? Join Landon and Broden in their new adventure to discover what wicked thing threatens their world.

My boys are 11 and 9, and they are huge zombie fans, but most zombie movies are still too scary for them to watch. They wanted something with the undead that wouldn’t keep them up for weeks and made them the heroes, so I wrote this story for them.

In celebration, the first two ebooks in the series—The Ifs and The Ifs Return—are free through Sunday. Now is the time to catch up on the series and get ready for a whole new adventure!

I’m also looking for reviewers, so if anyone is interested, drop me a line!

Movie Review Monday

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

The pickings for movies to rent were pretty slim this weekend—especially for family-friendly films. There were several horror films I wanted to watch, but I wanted my kids to sleep for the next week. We dug deep into the movie list to find something that appealed to everyone. Murder on the Orient Express was the winner.

It’s going to be really hard to talk about this film and not give anything away. Since it’s a murder mystery, every detail is important and a potential spoiler for the ending. I’ll do my best…

When we watched the trailer for the film, it reminded us of the movie Clue. We thought it was going to be similar—perhaps without the humor—and as far as being a murder mystery, it was. However, that is where the similarities ended.

Murder on the Orient Express needed to have been structured differently. As it was, it was confusing as to what the focus of the film should be. Was it the detective or the story behind the murder? Personally, I thought the story behind the murder was fascinating and should have overarched the entire film. It would have made things make more sense.

The film has a star-studded cast, and they do a fine job. It is 114 minutes long but feels about twice that length. There’s very little action and a lot of talking. My youngest, who is 9, gave up on the movie less than half way through. It didn’t hold his interest. My oldest stuck with it and enjoyed it. I thought it was meh. My spouse didn’t like it. Stylistically, the shots in the film were beautiful. But those couldn’t keep the film interesting.

Murder on the Orient Express got us through movie night. Has anyone else watched this movie? What were your thoughts?

Movie Review Monday

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

We started with the first movie, so we figured we’d see them all the way through. My boys really enjoy these films, so they wanted to see how the series ended. You can read my reviews for the first film here and the second film here.

The Death Cure picks up where the last one left off, with Thomas attempting to save his friend Minho from the WCKD corporation. The film begins with an elaborate, grandiose train “robbery” to rescue Minho. I was a little confused as to why Minho and the others were being transported on a train, especially since they have pretty advanced jets. I mean, a train is pretty ancient compared to the flying contraption, and it can only move so fast (it wasn’t a super train). If the company was so concerned about a rescue attempt, why make it easy?

Of course, the point was so that Thomas and the other rebels could steal the plane (or jet, I’m not sure what they called in the movie) to be used later in the film. But why would the soldiers in the plane/jet/flying contraption allow themselves to be hijacked? You’re in a plane/jet/flying contraption! You can shoot the rebels from the sky. You don’t need to land and take them into custody. Ugh! Use your brains people!

That was the introduction to the film, and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the movie. The characters do quite a few things that don’t make a lot of sense, and we don’t get an explanation as to why. As I mentioned in my review of the second film, several of the “immunes” turn out to not be immune, but it’s not explained why. There’s a cryptic comment about them being in the glade with the others so WCKD can tell the immunes from the nonimmunes apart, but that just seems silly. Why waste time and resources on nonimmunes if you’re trying to save the world? And it doesn’t explain why the so-called immunes could still get infected by Grievers.

Like the other films, there was an inordinate amount of running. I even commented that Thomas has been running since the first movie and hasn’t really stopped—he must be getting super tired. Plus, it doesn’t make a lot of sense why he would put himself and his other friends in harm’s way for one person.

Sure, there was the whole promise thing and being true to his word, but at some point I would think that Minho would be like: “Dude, you’re going to die if you come in here. There’s no reason for both of us to be killed.” But maybe Minho is super self-centered and wants others to put themselves at risk to save him. I don’t know. And also: Thomas wouldn’t be the hero and there wouldn’t be a story and we wouldn’t have a dystopian world with a corrupt corporation that has to be destroyed if he didn’t go after his friend. I guess Minho is just a plot device.

The film had its share of action and explosions. It was 141 minutes long and felt every bit of it. The end dragged out for way longer than it needed to be, and then the very end left me shaking my head and asking a ton more questions. I won’t tell you what those were because I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s possible there’s another film and if not, the ending was a WTF? type of ending.

I’m not upset that I watched the movie, but I probably would have survived if I hadn’t seen it. I wasn’t dying to know what happened, and now that I know what happened, I’m bothered by it. Maybe I need to read the books. Maybe they’ll make everything make sense.

Who else has seen these movies? What did you think?

Projects In Progress

Is it just me, or is anyone else a little weirded out that it’s May? That means that school is almost out and summer is right around the corner. It means FREEDOM! I’m not sure I’m ready for the boys to be away from their schedule. I’m sure they are.

Despite my unreadiness, time will keep marching forward and summer is the perfect time to lose yourself in some great books. I’ve got some in the works, so I wanted to share what projects I have in progress and what you can expect from me in 2018.

Death to the Undead Audiobook

The second book in the Life After the Undead series has been recorded and should be approved any day now by ACX. If you haven’t listened to the first, you can find it on Audible or iTunes.


The Ifs Audiobook(s)

I am also getting The Ifs series turned into audiobooks. The first one should be available mid-summer. I will let you know when that’s available.

Undead Ifs
Speaking of The Ifs, the third book in the series, Undead Ifs, will be available in Kindle and paperback format soon. Again, if you haven’t read the other two books in the series (The Ifs and The Ifs Return), now is a good time to get caught up.


Edge of Humanity

I’m assuming that toward the end of the year Edge of Humanity will be available as an ebook and paperback. It’s the second in the Saving Humanity series—Humanity’s Hope is the first. Check it out if you haven’t had a chance!


What happens when humanity's hope rests on the shoulders of a teenager?

Caleb didn’t come out of the zombie uprising unscathed. He’s been scarred—both mentally and physically. The rest of humanity is trying to rebuild, to make the world normal again. Caleb is trying to return to a normal life also, but after all he’s seen, after the loss of his family and friends, the transition is difficult. The darkness that led him down a path of self-doubt and self-harm has never left his mind.

Things only become worse when he discovers he’s immune to whatever makes a zombie a zombie. Fighting zombies was predictable. He knew what to expect. Fighting humans is volatile. They are malicious and treacherous. They won’t stop to get what they want, and Caleb has to figure out exactly what that is.

Summer is the best time to get find yourself in new and exciting worlds and to meet some new imaginary friends. I hope to expand and enrich your reading experience with my latest releases and the first stories from the various series.

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