Posts Tagged ‘review’

Hot and Steamy

I’m talking about Florida! Come on, what did you expect me to say after a title like that? Of course that’s really just a segue into mentioning a new book that I’m looking for some beta readers / reviewers for.

Why bother? Well, this book is called Devil’s Rising and it’s a collaboration between myself and J. Knight Bybee (the same guy who worked with me to create Devil’s Island). Not only that, but Devil’s Rising is the sequel to Devil’s Island – hard to believe, I know!

The premise of the story is the people leftover from book 1 are hell bent on stopping what happened in book 1. So they travel cross country to get help and the help they find is not what they expected. Then they have to go back into that hot and steamy place (Florida – get your minds outta the gutter) and try to right the things that went wrong the last time around.

It’s got action, romance, young love, epic character development, and a pace that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. By the time the book ended even I was shocked at what we’d created. I found a new favorite character in the series and can’t stop thinking about them!

So here’s the deal – if you’re itching to get your hands on it, let me know. Give me a comment, an email (, a facebook mention, a tweet, knock on my door, whatever it takes. The book is yours for the asking. What I ask for is your thoughts on the book and any glaring errors that may have jumped out at you (missing words, misspelled words, etc.). There shouldn’t be many but Mr. Bybee and I really got swept up near the end of the book and the writing was fast and furious between us. The only other thing I ask is that if you liked it even half as much as we did, you leave a review on Amazon when we launch it.

Oh, and I’m not looking for beta readers anymore for Devil’s Rising (book 1 in the Fallen Angels series), but if you’d like to get a free copy of the book in exchange for a review, let me know about that too. I’ll make it happen.


To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at


I Didn’t Fall Off the Wagon, I Broke It!

February 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m a man who’s owned a lot of grills in his life. I consider myself pretty good at grilling, whether its burgers, brats, steaks, ribs, or more. I’ve even tried shoving a half full beer can up a chicken’s keister and grilling it – it was awesome. Who knew chickens liked it in the can?

Since I moved my family to Novi, Michigan, we’ve been treated to a variety of culinary delights. It makes sense, really. The crappy weather in Michigan leaves people with a lot of time on their hands. Between mowing lawns between rain storms, shoveling snow between early thaws, and ice fishing why not eat?

So my wife and I have been trying to find and try some different places to eat. First we found a new Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi restaurant that I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s called Genji’s and it’s just off I-96 on Novi rd (north of I-96). On par with the best sushi I’ve ever had and not a wallet buster. My wife will rant and rave about their Tiramisu until she runs out of breath too.

We’ve tried some more regular places like Buffalo Wild Wings in the West Oaks Mall and Hooters (same mall). Decent food there too, which surprised me when it came to Hooters. Probably not as much as the staff was surprised when me, my wife, and my two children rolled in during the mid-afternoon one day, but that’s called spontaneity.

Then on Saturday my wife asked me if I’d been craving anything that I hadn’t had in a while. I had not. We were tired after an overnight trip with the kids and just feeling kind of blah. I thought about it more and more though and realized I hadn’t had a steak in a while, at least not one that we cooked / grilled at home (through trial and error I’ve discovered that I make the best steaks for me). I was considering giving somebody a chance to impress me when my mind drifted to ribs.

I’ll be the first to admit that while I like ribs, I get frustrated at the mess and the work involved. Still, I was feeling adventurous so I asked if there were any places that had decent ribs in the area. We passed over the usual Applebees and Outback. Not bad places, we’ve just been there, done that. She consulted her smartphone and a moment later came up with one we’d seen but never really thought much about. Famous Dave’s. They had all sorts of stuff and, after she read off a few menu items to me, we decided to give it a shot. They had stuff to keep the kids happy and feed us.

Our timing was perfect, right between rushes. The 20 – 25 minute wait quoted to us turned out to be 30 seconds. It was awesome. We sat down and were waited on right away and, after browsing the menu we made the mistake of ordering kids meals for the kids and decided to share a feast between my wife and I. It says it will feed 2 – 3 people so we figured we’d be safe and maybe have something I could take to work for lunch. In almost no time the food came. Amazing service.

It turned out the kids wanted to eat from the giant platter more than their plates, so that was the mistake we made. My wife and I gorged ourselves on protein and left with a couple of containers full of leftovers and we had to waddle to the car. As soon as we got home it was time for comfy pants. You know what I’m talking about. And yes, I finished off the smorgasbord of meat Monday at lunch at work. It was gluttony at its finest!

Their chicken and ribs are great but I have to give an 11 out of 10 for their beef brisket. Absolutely outstanding. I will go back again. And again. And maybe a few more agains.

For those who don’t know me (most of you), I’m a big guy. Not pear-shaped-big, but I-pick-up-heavy-things-big. I’m 6’1″ and 235lbs, but I can pick up over 500 pounds and my chest is bigger than my belly. My wife is also very athletic and active and keeps herself in good shape. Gorging ourselves to the point of misery is out of character for us, but it was that good. I don’t recommend doing so for a variety of reasons, but I do recommend trying this place out if you never have. Unless you’re a vegetarian – in that case stay far, far away from the deliciousness that is smoked and barbecued meat.

Fueled by the wonderful proteins and amino acids I’m now ready to crank out a few thousand more words on my next book, Soulmates, the third book in my Dark Earth series.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at

Looking For Feedback on a Fantasy

August 15, 2012 3 comments

So there’s this grotto fed by hot springs, a full moon, and a gentle breeze blowing… Wait a minute, it’s not THAT kind of fantasy! What I’m talking about is a new fantasy book (or hopefully a new series). You see, I finished Vitalis – Resurrection and sent it to my editor yesterday. Black Widow should be out very soon, and that means my fingers are idle and in need of something new to write! Sure, I’ve got lots of options, but I want to break away and start up something new. So I’m thinking fantasy, but my idea of fantasy fiction and what others might like may not be on the same page. I’m very much in the conceptual stages right now, but I’d love to get some feedback on what people think they might like to see. For example…

Should there be a single main character or a small group of them? And if it’s just a single main character, should that character be male or female? (I confess I have a real fondness for writing female leads that kick ass – a combination of juvenile fascination and a desire to show how strong I consider the “gentler” gender to be capable of)

High, medium, or low fantasy? (high = loads of magic rivaling technology, all sorts of races and critters / low = historical earth / medium = somewhere between the two)

I’m willing to entertain any other thoughts or suggestions as well. I have plenty of my own ideas rattling around in my head, I’m just trying to make sure others will be similarly fascinated with what comes of it.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at

Have Passport, Will Travel

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t know when, nor do I know how, but I do know that I have got to get over to visit the UK. I haven’t done much of anything to target readers of fantasy and science fiction in the UK but I’ve had several books hit bestselling lists over there on Amazon. Voidhawk, Wanted, Ice Princess, and the Lost Girls all had a few moments of glory. It’s been shocking and amazing for me, and it instills in me a serious fondness for my readers in the UK.

So my plan, far fetched as it may be, is to visit the UK at some point in the future. I sincerely hope I can hook up with at least a few readers when this happens to share firsthand my appreciation with them. No, there’s nothing on the books yet, and for that matter I’m not sure when I could afford to do visit with my entire family, but that’s how goals start out.

As a case in point, let me share a link and a snippet from a review I stumbled across today on the web. It’s from Ishbel Stronach, a wonderful woman across the pond. She picked up Vitalis: New Beginnings not so long ago and used it to step into the world of science fiction for the very first time. She loved it and came back for more, starting with Wanted. To quote a line from her review she said: “New Beginnings was a fantastic book by Jason Halstead. my first science fiction book ever and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

If you’d like to read more of her blog, here’s the link:

If you’d like to check out Vitalis – New Beginnings, here’s your chance:

Vitalis Book 1 - New Beginnings

Vitalis - New Beginnings, on Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes and Noble


To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at

Hidden Evil, by Bob Stewart

October 12, 2011 1 comment

No, it’s not a review it’s a press-release of sorts. Novel Concept Publishing has just released a new book – and this time it’s by Bob Stewart.

Novel Concept Publishing, LLC announces the release of HIDDEN EVIL by Bob Stewart.

HIDDEN EVIL is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords.

In an upcoming interview, Bob shared what prompted him to write HIDDEN EVIL

“Reared in Texas I had heard rumblings of occult power, but generally it was the superstition generated by well-meaning people who want to insure good health, happiness or wealth; a rather benign practice that involves candles, herbs or ritual. It wasn’t until People Magazine assigned me to report on the sacrifice/murder of a college student on Spring Break on the South Texas border that I came into contact with the evil side of the occult. I had never heard the words Santeria or Palo Mayombe, until then. As I stood amid a number of fly-covered graves, when I visited the death shack on a desolate rancho in Mexico, I discovered an evil as ancient as any practice during Biblical times. Hidden Evil is my way of drawing attention to this culture flourishing in the halls of the rich and the powerful as well as humble adobe shacks. While it is fiction, many of the incidents and rituals used in the book are based on fact.”

The rest of J.E. Taylor’s interview with Bob Stewart will be available on Halloween. In the meantime, here’s a first look at HIDDEN EVIL:

Hidden Evil, by Bob Stewart

Hidden Evil, by Bob Stewart

HIDDEN EVIL by Bob Stewart

After a drug-addled teenager turns the annual Battle of Flowers Parade into a bloodbath, Majorette Cindi Neff – photographed blood covered and screaming beside the body of a dead classmate – becomes the media symbol of the tragedy, and the object of cult leader Juan Otero’s obsession.

Soon after his burial, the gravesite of Cindi’s dead classmate is violated and Deputy Sheriff Nancy Neff, an expert in Afro-Caribbean religions, is called to the scene. Minister Luke Oeding, a representative for the bereaved family, joins Nancy in the investigation into this unimaginable crime.

In a deadly chess match of good versus evil, they plunge into the world of the South Texas drug cult and come face to face with Palo Mayombe, the darkest of the hidden religions. When Cindi Neff is kidnapped, Nancy and Luke race to save her from the clutches of the malevolent cult before she is sacrificed in an Easter Sunday Palo Mayombe ritual.

“Bob Stewart’s new novel, HIDDEN EVIL, is ripped directly from today’s headlines about drug smuggling on the Texas border. This puts a face to the horrors that we seem to see daily on the evening news. Deeply-disturbed characters, facing what they see as a black future, turn to drugs and the occult and what follows…human sacrifice. It’s a tale that begins with a Columbine-style massacre and ends on Easter Sunday in a classic battle between good and evil. I don’t read vampire or werewolf novels simply because I don’t believe they exist and it’s a bit difficult to conjure up any kind of delicious fear by pretend monsters, but these folks are real and quite possibly living on my block… so, yeah… it pushed my fear button. After I read it, I slept with the nightlight on for a week. Get this book. It’s truly scary and it’s damned fine writing and story-telling.” Les Edgerton Author of Hooked, Just Like That, The Bitch, The Rapist and others.

Excerpt from HIDDEN EVIL:

Book One-Chapter One

A mixed blessing. That’s how Nancy Neff viewed chaperone duty. Within a few minutes she would join a dozen other band parents, all loaded with water and supplies. But, only one of them would be carrying a gun, tucked away in a fanny bag, under a backpack filled with white shoe polish, Band-Aids, water, and Gatorade.

Her only regret when she volunteered for this duty was that she could not watch Cindi strut her stuff as lead majorette. She felt foolish at the thought. Andy had never seen his daughter twirl a baton or heard the appreciative applause in a packed football stadium, never looked into her emerald green eyes, the same color as his, or taught her how to dance or gave her first date grief.

“She’s not going to be allowed to date until she’s 45, and then when the ol’ boy shows up it’d better be with three tickets,” he said one night while feeling the child kick in her bloated belly.

She gave her standard reply. “I’m sure she’ll want you to go with them.”

This bit of nonsense had become a ritual on the rare nights he was home.

“Better yet. When he shows up I’ll be cleaning my service revolver. No. Better yet. I’ll get my shotgun and be putting shells in it when she escorts him into the living room to meet me. Maybe I’ll be wearing my uniform and badge and pistol.”

They laughed at the vivid image of a nervous teen before an armed stern officer of the law before Nancy said, “No. You won’t do that.”

“Yes I will. Just you wait and see.”

On the day Cindi was born, he was denied the joys of parenthood, except for one brief moment, and then he saw only the blue eyes that all babies are born with. Sometimes the guilt overwhelmed her. Why had she been allowed the privilege of the child and Andy had been denied?

The regret was compounded by sixteen years of guilt and longing for what might have been, never for what could be. How could she exist in any other reality? Her love remained in the past. Cindi was all that made life bearable. Cindi was her happiness and her future. She rarely dated, and these men quickly discovered that there was no room for anyone else; just the ghost of the past and the reality of the present.

“You would think after sixteen years I could start over,” she muttered aloud, taking the Broadway exit off Interstate 35 near downtown San Antonio. “Maybe even resurrect my life, or what’s left of it.”

* * * *

Luke Oeding looked around. The Harringtons were late. No surprise there. He came early to hold a place for them so they’d have a good view of their tuba-totting son after they helped the band with last-minute details. Luke claimed a good spot along the curb at an intersection in front of The San Antonio Light, and across the street from the WRW-TV platform.

He breathed in the ambiance of the parade. Cotton candy, hot dogs, sausage on a stick, and fajitas mingled with the sharp odor of spilled beer and body odor. Music, laughter, crying children, and vendors hawking everything from food to fiesta folderol wrapped him in a festive buzz.

Sun sparked golden diamonds off bass horns and baritones and French horns as students paraded down the street in a calliope of colors, red and blue, black and yellow, green and brown, all accented by thousands of freshly polished white shoes.

Again, he looked around for the Harringtons, and checked his watch.

The cool fall morning was already giving way to a sweltering heat that would soon wilt the students in woolen uniforms.

“Mommy, I can’t see. That man’s in the way.”

From the mouth of a child.

“Hush.” It was a serious whisper.

Luke turned to look down at a woman holding a tiny child, delicate and blonde. Bittersweet memories washed his soul as he stepped back and gestured toward the space in front of him. “Why don’t you step in front of me, then the child can see.”

Luke hushed her protest with a raised palm.

“That’s one of the privileges in being tall. You can see over everyone.”

She hesitated, looking up at him.

“Please. We don’t want the child to miss the parade.”

“Thank you.”

She stepped forward and stood on the lip of the curb in front of the crowd.

“That better?” Luke asked.

“Much. Thank you, again,” she said.

The child looked up showing dimples with a grin. “Thank you.”

Luke felt his gut clinch and the old familiar demon churn when he locked into her innocent eyes. The shy smile reflected a past he fought daily to forget.

With a sigh he closed his eyes, shoving the past back into its God-forsaken realm. He forced a grin, patted her on the head, then looked up to see the Harringtons across the street. Good, they made it in time to see Ron.

Thankful to refocus, he waved.

Pop… pop … pop…

It sounded like a string of firecrackers: sharp reports out of sync with the rhythmic cadence of marching bands parading through downtown San Antonio.

Luke shook his head. Fireworks were outlawed, but kids loved to break rules.

Pop… pop … pop. The woman grabbed her daughter’s hand and began to push backward. He stepped out of her way, offering a smile.

“Don’t worry. It’s just some…”

Pop! Pop! Pop… pop…pop pop-pop-pop

Luke swiveled to see one of the pops rip open the chest of a hefty police officer directing traffic. He pitched backward to lie sprawled, unmoving.

“Pancho!” Another officer bolted into the intersection only to tumble the last few feet, blood gushing from both legs.

Riding the rising crest of chaos a piercing scream spun Luke back to the fear-stricken woman.

* * * *

Nancy heard the frantic words every lawman fears.

“Officer down! Officer down!” The dispatcher guided everyone within radio range to Broadway and Nogolitas, the staging area for high school bands.

Nancy was only a few blocks away, dressed in her band chaperone’s outfit of blue jeans and a new blood-red bowling shirt with the white Rough Rider mascot on the back.

Now she wished she had on her deputy sheriff’s uniform as she slammed the accelerator to the floor and toggled the siren.

* * * *

In blind terror, Cindi tripped over a bass drum. She no sooner hit the hot pavement than a fleeing fellow student kicked her in the stomach. Gasping for breath and fighting nausea, she rolled over to push up only to have her hand crunched by another student. She collapsed head down, her cheek sliding along the searing pavement.

Her good hand flew to the raw flesh. What’s Bill going to think when he sees my face?

Paralyzed by heaving gasps, her hand throbbing, her face now hamburger meat, Cindi felt strong hands behind her, scooping her upward.

“I’ve got you Cindi, nothing’s going to happen to you,” a calm voice whispered in her ears. “God’s watching.”

She recognized Ron Harrington’s distinctive tenor. The husky tuba player used his bulk to block for her as she struggled to stand. Cindi was almost on her feet when she heard the wet smack of lead ripping into flesh. Ron crumpled atop her, shoving her to the pavement; his wounded body now her prison, and her shield.

She could barely breathe from the weight of the big teen as his life-blood oozed out and trickled down her cheek. She spit out the warm, salty taste that dribbled into the corner of her mouth and retched, finding relief in the bitter bile that washed away the coopery taste of human life.

Terror crashed into sensory overload as Cindi struggled to be free of Ron’s bulk and to spot the shooter. Splayed face down on the pavement, and trapped beneath more than two hundred pounds of slack weight, she could only move her head to one side, her vision knee-high. Movement caught her eye. Her lungs nearly exploded with fear. In the distance the killer strolled down the street toward her.

Tommy Alexander!

Through the haze of blood-blurred eyes, Cindi watched Tommy spray the retreating red-and-white clad band members with a machinegun. Then, he turned it onto the stunned crowd.

* * * *

The nervous woman’s scream morphed into a throaty gurgle. Luke caught her before she fell, swung her up snug against his chest, and started to run. A thin shriek stopped him.

“Mommy! Mommy. You hurt my Mommy.” Her voice trilled terror in upper register. He turned to see her standing paralyzed at the sight of him holding her mother like a rag doll.

Luke closed his eyes in disbelief. He forgot the little girl!

“No! No. I didn’t hurt her. Come here, honey,” he coaxed the child toward him, his rumbling bass barely concealing his fear.

He would not mess up this time. This time no one would die. Gunfire continued in the background, a few bullets slapping too close.

The little girl took a halting step forward before retreating at the horrible sight of her mother hanging limp in his arms.

“Pumpkin.” Luke said, then hesitated, the word bittersweet in his mouth. He was stunned that he used the term of endearment. He had not uttered it in years; but, it rolled out easily, subconsciously.

“Pumpkin. You have to come with me,” Luke said softly, gingerly stepping toward the child. He saw blood in her platinum hair.

“Does your head hurt?”

She shook it side to side.

“Come.” Half command, half plea. “You have to come with me. Your Mommy needs help. We need to take her to the doctor. Right now!”

When the child hesitated, he commanded, “Look at me.” When the tearstained gaze met his, he continued. “I have to get your Mommy to the doctor and I can’t leave you here. It isn’t safe.” He relaxed his grip and extended a long finger for the child to grasp. “Hold my hand and I’ll get you and your mother to where it’s safe.”

The child’s wide eyes clutched at Luke’s heart like a molten vice grip.

“Promise?” she asked.

Luke swallowed deeply. For a moment, he toyed with an assortment of answers. “Yes,” he whispered, offering confidence he did not feel. “Yes. I promise.”

Despite the pandemonium surrounding them, Luke concentrated on her eyes-silently willing her to take his hand. The crowd surged backward, trampling upon itself, leaving Luke and the child exposed.

Chunks of lead slammed into the street sign only a few inches from Luke. He didn’t notice. His deep, bass voice coaxed the child forward as he inched toward her. She took a few tentative steps until she gingerly took his extended finger. Adobe exploded, concrete chunks filled the air, and the child shrieked.

“Don’t let go! Look at me.”

Rocky shrapnel peppered his face with tiny fragments. Ignoring the blood dripping down his face, Luke began to walk backwards, all the while talking to her. He existed in a false island of quiet amid the chaos of death, living in the narrow confines of the moment.

* * * *

It took only a few seconds for Tommy to empty the automatic weapon. He tossed the machinegun aside, and pulled a pistol. Cindi watched him scurry toward her, leaving more death in his wake. He paused over a moaning musician to deliver a coup de grace. The victim’s head dissolved in a spray of pink mist. Two steps and he stood over Ron Harrington, who weakly raised a hand to ward off the pending assassination.

The repercussion from the blast snapped Cindi’s head into the pavement. Blood, bone, and tissue puffed into a frothy crimson ball, its residue settling like a filmy blanket over her head and shoulders.

“Why are you doing this?” she moaned. The two had been innocent sweethearts in the fifth grade. Tommy had always been a good friend. Startled at the sound of her voice, she mentally commanded her quivering body to remain still as she held her breath, and went limp. Tommy rolled Ron’s body from over her, the dead weight of his meaty arm caught hers, pulling her onto her back before his lifeless body was pushed clear. In a vacuum of terror, she lay prone with her eyes closed – playing dead.

Ahh Karma! (Review on Human Nature)

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I review a book, somebody reviews a book for me. Pretty darn good trade I’d say! Read on for a bit on the review done for Human Nature over at “Love on the Bookshelf”.

This book had me at post-apocalyptic. I admit, I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories whether they’re books, movies, or just a good yarn. Now, Human Nature didn’t have Kevin Costner, but it was still a really good story. Dawn Vincent, aka the Doctor, is one of a handful of people left on Earth that survived an alien attack. (I know! There are aliens!) Most of the aliens have left, deeming Earth unworthy of their attention, but they left a few stragglers that are causing trouble. You know, like killing and eating the humans. And not necessarily in that order.

The real theme in this book is growth. The human race is growing stronger against the aliens. As she works on patching people up, Dawn grows

more confident in herself and her skills – both as a doctor and as a leader. And, an unexpected love grows between Dawn and ________. Well, I can’t give it away, can I?

Read the rest of the review here.

Human Nature, by Jason Halstead

Or click on the image to read the book itself!

Early Morning Surprises

September 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and find out your alarm clock quit working. Other times you realize you didn’t hear the dog whine and there’s a pile on your floor. Those are bad surprises – nobody wants those!

Then there are the good ones, perhaps the kind of thing that I shouldn’t mention in a family-friendly blog, for example. Or to be a little tamer, to receive an email saying I’ve inherited $20,000,000 from a Nigerian prince…

All right, I’m being silly. It’s early and there’s no coffee in my hand yet. The real surprise for me today was a review that came in for Dark Earth on a blog called the “Place of Reads”, run by a wonderful lady named Cana Elene. It’s a 4 out of 5 rating for the story with a great write-up!

Dark Earth by Jason Halstead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eric is a man who has lost a lot. His mother, his wife, and has moved to the middle of nowhere to raise his daughter. It is only when the world (and another world as well) comes to his home and world that he has to face what and who he and his daughter really are.

This novel is just as the title suggests, it is dark. There is a lot of death, even from the very first chapter. But even then it is still a really beautiful story. Eric is a strong man who after being introduced to a new and strange world, he takes it and grows. He fights to protect his daughter and becomes a stronger person. Between two worlds (parallel to each other), Earth and Dark Earth, the story tells of what love and courage can do for someone.

With a mix of Celtic myth, werewolves/changelings, witches, and secret organizations that protect the world as warders, you will get a wonderful mix of fantasy and fairy tale.

Recommend this book!


Dark Earth

Dark Earth

Dark Earth is a stand alone novel, however it also establishes a setting that I have several other books taking place in, some published and some forthcoming in the near future. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed off to Michigan for the day.

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