Catching up on Book Reviews – Prentiss & Janz

Man, I’m behind on my book reviews. Life has really gotten in the way lately of … well, I guess … living. In the next day or two I’ll be trying to catch up here so stay tuned as there have been some fantastic reads.

Here are two to start with: “Life in a Haunted House” by Norman Prentiss, and “Children of the Dark” by Johnathan Janz, two coming of age stories that are both brilliant, yet couldn’t be more different from each other.

Life In A Haunted House – Norman Prentiss


Haunted House“We all want magic of some kind.”

Life in a Haunted House is a multi-layered marvel, as intricate a novel as one could hope to conjure, and yet despite its carefully constructed narrative it reads as a simple coming-of-age story, something Prentiss has long mastered. Paying tribute to B-horror movies and the nostalgia that children these days will never fully appreciate, Prentiss plays a quite clever sleight-of-hand, keeping our attention focused where he wants it while the real story develops around us, engulfing the reader before they’re aware of what’s occurred.

Beautifully drawn characters, full of heart and courage but also flawed in a way that make them real, combined with an unconventional telling and unreliable narrator. It all adds up to an experience you won’t soon forget. This is a story you won’t want to end.

Norman has several tie-in stories as well available on Amazon that capture the movies discussed throughout this book – just one more layer to add to make this experience so unique.




Children of the Dark – Johnathan Janz

childrenMy first trip down Janz halls. Children of the Dark starts as a coming-of-age tale that is masterfully spun. If you don’t come to care about these characters in the first half of this novel, there’s something wrong with you. (But don’t worry, there’s something wrong with me too).

One of my biggest gripes with the horror genre is that gore and scares often tend to overshadow character development, and yet without giving us a reason to care about the characters it’s impossible for us to feel afraid for them. Janz takes his time setting up a great cast that feel remarkably real, so that when the horror begins you have a reason to sit up and take notice.

The second half of this novel was a completely different beast from the first, and while this is where the payoff comes for us horror junkies, there were moments where it felt a little too much and dipped into familiar tropes that could have been avoided. Still a quite stellar experience, and a book I would definitely recommend. Looking forward to revisiting more of the Janz hallways soon.

Book Review: Happiness is a Commodity by The Behrg

Always appreciate those who take the time to review my work. Much appreciated Mike –

Lurking In The Shadows



In the future, Happiness can no longer be achieved through natural means, but must be purchased from the government for brief 20-minute increments.

And the price is going up.

One man documents his experience as he uncovers a conspiracy by the governing elite. Those who are ALWAYS happy. But he will soon discover that the cost of real Happiness may be far worse than living perpetually in the dark.

Told through blog-post entries, this non-traditional novella explores a world where darkness and misery are the norm. An allegory for living with depression, this story will open your eyes to the millions lost in darkness around you, and may prepare you for a future that is all too likely to come.



And I have no idea what I just read.  Happiness is a Commodity is one of those books you just have to read for yourself.  I can’t…

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My One Political Post – It’s Ugly

There’s a lot of Ugly out in the world these days, and it only takes a second’s glance at the social media engine of your choice to be reminded how quickly hatred can become contagious. What we too often forget is that people can’t be lumped into a single classification – there’s so much that goes into each and every one of us and I cringe seeing some of the flagrant negativity being thrown around from all sides.

You won’t see any political posts from me — not that I’m not opinionated, I just feel there are better ways for me to make changes to my community than ranting about what I don’t agree with or dislike. When all you see in the world around you is Ugly, maybe it’s time to start looking inward and consider the source of the reflection you’re leaving on the world. I promise, if you look for it, there is beauty all around.

Even in a song like this:

The Smashing Pumpkins – Ugly from Qgle on Vimeo.


Happiness is a Commodity

Much thanks to Tricia at the Reading Raven for her thoughts and review of Happiness Is A Commodity!



Happiness is a Commodity is a well written and unique read. The cover is perfect too.
The writing is well done and its a quick read as it flows well. Even though this is a quick read, there is a lot of thought provoking dialogue (Jerry through his blog.) After I finished reading this novella, I went back to certain parts as some of what Jerry wrote struck a chord with me. I am definitely intrigued by The Behrg’s writing and I can’t wait to see what else he has upcoming!

At the end of the Novella The Behrg asks what is happiness to me? Lots of things can make me happy but one of the most important things is being able to laugh with my family; to enjoy their company!

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Book Review: “The X-Files: Trust No One”

The dichotomy between fact and fiction, between the rationalizations of an intelligent mind and that part of us that just wants to believe, are central to what made this show as successful as it was. Sure, that loud pounding that woke you in the middle of the night after watching a scary movie could be explained in a number of ways, but you still wonder (and secretly hope) if there was something more to it. Paranormal, the supernatural, a world beyond our world that we can’t see but that’s there. And, of course, the conspiracies of governments trying to keep their flocks from the truth.

xfilesThis is what we all want to believe, and Jonathan Maberry’s excellent intro to this anthology perfectly encapsulates that secret hope we all hold to (whether we admit it or not).

As for the stories found within this volume, there are some definite wins here. A few of the authors capture the characters so effortlessly that you feel you’ve been transported back to the nineties, and several of the tales would have made for amazing episodes. Others feel like “filler” material, with story lines that drag and character choices that feel quite forced and unnatural. Such, I suppose, is to be expected from this type of collection, but there’s a definite unevenness to the anthology in general, and it’s easy to spot who’s at the top of their game and who rushed to meet a deadline (not to mention who’s woefully unfamiliar with the show).

The good news is that the stories that succeed make this worth checking out. Tim Lebbon, Peter Clines, and Brian Keene spin some memorable tales and a few of the weirder stories — while far from perfect — still stay with you. Despite the ebb and flow, it’s great to get reacquainted with Fox and Mulder on a few new adventures, and fans of the TV show will have something to celebrate here.

Horror After Dark Reviews Happiness

Another astonishing genre-breaking novel from an author that is consistently blending his stories into multiple areas of classification. I enjoy being challenged to think “outside the box”, and The Behrg excels at writing tales that push you to do just that–all within a fun and different framework.

Much thanks to Kim Yerina and the Horror After Dark website for reviewing “Happiness Is A Commodity” — you can check out the full review here.

HAD is also running a give-away for 2 free copies of Happiness. Enter the drawing here! Get Happy!!!




The Search For Happiness

Happiness is one of those elusive goals most people aren’t able to define, let alone achieve. But in order to find something, you have to first know what you’re looking for, so let’s examine together this weighty topic.

Let’s turn, first, to the definition of happiness, which offers more towards how inexplicably unhelpful dictionaries can be than actually helping us on our quest.

Ready for this one? Here goes:

Happiness: the state of being happy.

Sort of like defining a twinkie as, you know, that twinkie-ish pastry. Really helps clear up the meaning of the word, doesn’t it?

A slightly better, yet still murky, definition of happiness can be found through Wikipedia: Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Wild man is on the looseStarts off strong, then sort of leads you down the path of maybes and other undefinable characteristics, like joy, contentment, and <gasp> positivity. At least we get the understanding that it’s a mental or emotional state, though frankly I’m surprised they stopped with just two choices.

Makes you wonder if anyone really know what Happiness is?

Let’s dig a little further (or drop down a few searches in our Google browser) until we stumble on the site, which claims to give a more scientific approach to what happiness entails. About time, right? Because science, you know, has all the answers.

Here’s a quick summary from their home page:

The research suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis … but our general happiness is more genetically determined than anything else.

Yowsers. So what we’re searching for is the same think Mick Jagger’s been unable to get for 50 years. And yet, according to science, our genetics — something completely out of our control — are more in control of our state of mind than any other outer circumstance or influence.

For a word every three-year old knows, we sure have a tough time defining it.

My newest release, titled Happiness Is A Commodity, explores this theme through a world where happiness can no longer be achieved through natural means.


This is a world where people enslave themselves in order to purchase the briefest glimpse of happiness, for a brief 20-minute spell. A world where only the elite experience happiness all of the time.

A world that’s ultimately not that different from our own.

Anyone who’s felt the icy fingers of depression lance through their brains knows what this world is like, but what if happiness was truly unattainable on a macro level? What would that world look like?

While the official release date isn’t until Dec 1st, you can find out by picking up an early copy today. It may not be the answer to your lifelong search, but it’ll at least provide some entertainment for your journey.