Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

This is the story of Mildred Dunlap and her cousin Edra. Set in Red River Pass, Nevada during Oscar Wilde's prosecution and incarceration for 'indecent acts', it tells of a time of intolerance and prejudice. Mildred and Edra find their lives and 'special friendship' turned upside down by small minded townies. Mildred concocts a plan to take the spotlight off them but all too soon new and ever more malicious rumours start up and Mildred and Edra must look to unlikely sources for friendship and stability.

This was a wonderfully written written story, a female take on Brokeback Mountain. Both heart-warming and heartbreaking in turn, I was taken along on an amazing ride. It was at its core, a love story but it was also so much more than that. it showed all too strongly the damage prejudice and small minded gossip can cause. The descriptions were vivid and the characters solid and utterly believable. I found myself in tears on more than one occasion. Well done to the author for tackling an emotive issue with such compassion. I will certainly be looking out for more!

Monday, 24 December 2012

The 8th by Matt Shaw

This is the story of a boy - an ordinary boy - pushed to his limits by bullying at school. He tries to put up with it and ignore it but in the end it gets too much and over the course of one fateful lesson his resolves to make every one of the people who bullied him and his friends pay...

This was a very thought provoking story. It could happen to anyone pushed enough and fragile enough. Bullying is a terrible crime and not enough is done to stamp it out of our schools. The sad fact is, although extreme, the story was all too realistic, and that made it all the more chilling. Well done Matt, for addressing a subject that is all too often ignored and brushed under the carpet.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Affairs of the Heart by Borislava Borrisova

This is two novellas in one volume with the theme of love running through them.

I initially found these hard to get into. I had to keep stopping and starting, but once I had got past the 'sticky' bit I started to enjoy the book. The first novella concentrated on the secrets of a town in Bulgaria and was steeped in history. The second told of the trials and tribulations of everyday love. The pace was initially slow, but then picked up in the second story to almost breakneck speed! The characters were solid and believable, and I identified well with them. The stories themselves were bitter-sweet but enjoyable. A very good effort from the author.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

ASBO by Iain Rob Wright

This is the story of Andrew and his family who run foul of a local troublemaker. Andrew goes out for fish and chips and bumps into Frankie. Fresh out of a young offenders institution and looking to make trouble, he asks Andrew to buy him a packet of cigarettes, Andrew refuses. Soon though he comes to wish he had just bought the cigarettes as over the course of a week Frankie unleashes a reign of terror and brutality on Andrew and his family. It all culminates on one fateful night that none of them will forget for a very long time...

Sadly this is an indictment of today's Britain. It was a non-stop horrific ride of terror that left me gasping at the end. Andrew and his family were just an ordinary Joe family that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. My heart went out to them as they were being terrorised and I could feel their pain. I totally understood Andrew's actions and I think if I was in his position I would not hesitate to do the same. The story was very descriptive and the characters true to life. The pace belted along and the book was hard to put down. This is the first book I have read by this author and judging by this standard I will be reading more.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Dead Veil by Ian Woodhead

This is the fourth instalment in the Zombie Armageddon series, and eagerly awaited by myself! This time around the action is set a year on from the initial outbreak and centres on a dictatorship based at a tower block and delusional characters holed up in the supermarket.

I loved this. Ian never fails to amaze me with his imagination and detail. I have been waiting a while for this one and I certainly wasn't disappointed. The action as usual was fast paced and relentless. The zombies have evolved and are now almost super-'human' with somewhat vampiric qualities. Being able to read minds and heal themselves, the Hunters are top of the 'deadie' food chain! The gore was top notch and the characters were familiar and solid. This is a series that just keeps getting better and better. I do recommend that the others in the series are read first, if only to familiarise yourself with the characters and areas, although this isn't strictly necessary.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Meta-horde by Sean T. Page & John McCuaig

This is the story of a world ravaged by zombies. Only a very few outposts survive holding out against the zombie armies. Now an eminent scientist in the outpost of Carcassonne in France has predicted that the zombies will band together in 'meta-hordes' (millions of zombies together) and storm the last few outposts. Desperate to wipe them out before they arrive, a few plucky survivors decide to blow up a nuclear power plant. Sadly they are sabotaged by an infiltrator from a group bent on creating Armageddon. Will they survive long enough to wipe out the meta-hordes? Will the plan work, and will the earth be saved?

I must admit, I have reviewed so many zombie books now I am honestly starting to enjoy the genre! This was no exception. I enjoyed the gritty dystopian horror that the world has been left in - with life just existing from day to day. The action was relentless although the zombie gore was played down. This to me was more about the survival than the blood and guts. The characters were easily identifiable with and seemed very human to me. I found the pace just right - a great page turner for a spooky winters evening or two.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Federal Agent by Sean Sweeney

This is the fourth outing for Jaclyn Johnson (codename Snapshot), the visually impaired secret agent extraordinaire. This time around she is chasing a high ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan who has been broken out of prison moments before he was due to be executed. He has targeted certain people for revenge and it is up to Jaclyn to keep them safe, including the President and his opposition, Dick Bennett. With Dick Bennett against her and everything the CIA stand for - will she be able to keep her promise and do her job?

This was another great 'Snapshot' book. I love the gadgets, I love the cars and especially the fact that the Secret Agent is a woman and a blind woman at that. The subject matter of the KKK was a brave one to tackle and I commend Sean for doing it. In no way was the Klan glorified or revered. The bad guy was possibly the most odious I have come across and it worked so well. I enjoyed this greatly and recommend it for fans of the series and for newcomers too. These books stand alone well with only very brief mentions to previous places or missions. Another great 'Snapshot' story, long may the series continue.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The Fleshless Man by Norman Prentiss

This is the story of Curtis, Glen and their mother. She is dying from cancer, and Curtis has returned home to be with her in her last days. Things have changed a bit since he left. His brother has lost lots of weight and seems very jittery, and Curtis himself has been having terrible dreams since he returned. The nurse tells of the legend of 'The Fleshless Man' and Curtis' mother is afraid that the 'Fleshless Man' is trying to kill her. Who is he, why is his brother so twitchy and his mother so afraid?

This was a short, fast and poignant read. The story explores Curtis' feelings about leaving home and leaving his brother to care for his mother and her illness on his own. It was chilling and quite a hard book to read in places, because of the emotive subject matter (described quite graphically!). In short it was a tactfully written story with just the right amount of chills. An enjoyable read.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Hoard by Alan Ryker

This is the story of Anna, and her son Pete and his family. Anna is a hoarder and has lived all her married life in the house her husband built for her. Now she has had an accident and must go and stay with Pete and his family. Her behaviour soon becomes increasingly erratic and Pete fears for her mental health. Then she runs from his house and back to her own and the comfort of her things around her. Then people start to go missing....

This was an interesting subject to base a horror on, probably unique too. It made for compelling reading as we followed Anna's descent into madness and Peter's shame at the state his mother had got into and the fact that he had allowed it to go on for so long. It was a chilling book in places and kept me hooked until the end. Great characters and a unique plot make this an absolute winner.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Trinity by Kristin Dearborn

This is the story of Valentine (Val). Newly released from prison, he has to cope with life on the outside and his mother near death from cancer. Ever since he got back he has been hearing a hum that gets worse as he gets nearer an old mine, and why does he keep sleepwalking and waking up in the desert? When bodies start turning up horribly mangled near his trailer he knows he has to get to the bottom of things. His journey to find the truth will turn out to be far more horrifying than he could ever have imagined.

I liked this. It was a different sort of alien story with a shot of horror laced through it. It was fast paced and action packed. The characters were solid and the storyline was tight and tense. It turned many of the alien myths upside down and I liked that the author was unafraid to challenge things. This was a well rounded and well written debut story from a promising new writer.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

When We Join Jesus in Hell by Lee Thompson

This is the story of Fist, an ex boxer turned workaday Joe family man. He feels lost in his new role and tries to drown his sorrow in drink. One night he comes home drunk and stumbles up to bed. What he sees in the bedroom will change his life forever, and over the course of that night he tries to set right a series of wrongs.

This was an intensely moving and powerful story. Yes it was dark, and gory but still enormously moving. My heart went out to Fist for what he felt was a life wasted. It was a quick read, but there was no quality lost, in fact it made it more profound for that. The pace was good and I felt I was walking in Fists shoes with him. This was amazing and extraordinary writing.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

No Turning Back by Andy Deane

This is the story of a girl (we never know her name) who has had her family brutally tortured and killed, she is the only survivor and now she has been kidnapped by the men who did it. They in turn torture and rape her. She escapes and runs into a car containing five travellers who are headed to a cottage for a quiet weekend. They take her with them and now the killers are after them too. They are soon trapped in the house, but these are no ordinary killers, they are something far more horrifying....

This was great. It was soaked in blood and gore, just how I like it. It starts off as a typical slasher type story but soon develops into something far more scary and horrific. There was also a twist in the story that was totally unexpected. It is short but perfectly formed! All the action was neatly contained in the package, and I never felt I was needing more. The pace was fast and I devoured it in one sitting. It was delicious and dark and very very well written.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Supercritical by Shawn Kupfer

This is the story of Nick Morrow. He is an Asian American lieutenant in charge of 47 Echo. Set in the future, the units are made up of convicts. Due to the Convict Conscript Act, prisoners are used almost as human shields to the regular forces. To Nick, his unit are his friends and he will guard them with his life. China is at war with the US and now Nick and his rag tag unit are being sent on an almost suicide mission to Shanghai. Can he complete the objective and get everyone out alive or is everyone doomed?

This was a great, action filled story. I loved the characters and I felt for them, always being sent on suicide missions as they were seen as being expendable. The pace was fast and the action unrelenting. The story itself was an interesting one, set in the future. It was a future however that anyone could recognise (apart from the China/Russia war with the US!). The characters were believable, and Nick stood out as the hero, who, having paid his dues, had earned the right to lead his team as a regular Marine. I enjoyed this very much and would be happy to read more from this author.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James

This is the story of Ana and Christian. Christian is obsessed with Ana from the moment she stumbles into his office to give him an interview.He has very singular sexual tastes though, can Ana overcome her initial revulsion at his proposals or are their lives together doomed before they start?

I started these with some trepidation as I felt I was really just jumping on a hype bandwagon. I was captivated by the first book. The burgeoning relationship between Ana and Christian was beautifully told, including Ana's revulsion at Christian's lifestyle. There were moments of repetition throughout the whole trilogy. Ana's use of 'oh my' started to grate after a while. I loved the battle between Ana, her subconscious and her inner goddess but even that became repetitive by the end of the third book. Book two I felt lost it's way a little bit but by book 3 it was like putting on an old pair of slippers and welcoming friends in for dinner. Overall I enjoyed the trilogy but I realise it won't be for everyone. I would call it a marmite set of books. Either you are going to love them or hate them. If you go in with your eyes open and ignore the hype then I think you will enjoy this trilogy as I have. Hopefully there will be more more from Christians side as the teasers at the end of book three suggested!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Virtually True by Adam L. Penenberg

This is the story of True Ailie. He is recovering from a Virtual Reality addiction and in danger of losing his job as an ace reporter. Then a friend of his along with an eleven year old shanty orphan are killed with a futuristic bomb that tracks DNA to assure success. Now he must put together the pieces and find out why they were killed and how it ties in with an earthquake in Japan. Hampered by a corrupt police chief, it's not going to be as simple as it looks.

This was an interesting idea. Set within a dystopian future, the world has changed from how we know it. Some countries have gone and others have been created. True is interesting as the damaged hero, still lingering after his ex wife, recovering from a Virtual Reality addiction and trying to crack open a worldwide news scoop. This is a lesson on becoming too reliant and therefore ending up hooked on VR. In places it was confusing and the different strands were hard to keep up, but don't let that put you off as it all comes together rather nicely at the end and you will go 'Ohhh yeah!'. It is a little bit like 'Inception' in its approach and I rather liked that, it made it seem a little different to the books I normally read. This was a good techno thriller and I will be happy to read more of this genre and more from the author.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

He Waits by JG Faherty

This is the story of Ron Francis. His brother fell in a well when they were children and died. At least that's what Ron told everybody. What really happened is far more sinister. Now 30 years later, his sons have fallen down the same well, and fearing they have succumbed to the same fate as his brother, he decides to go down the well after them. What he finds down there is far more horrifying than he could ever imagine.

This was chilling and gruesome and horrible. I loved it. It's a quick read, and a captivating one. Ron's anguish and need to put things right shines through and you want to find out what happens to him and his family. The descriptions of the well and beyond were creepy and claustrophobic in places, and made me shiver once or twice! The ending was shocking, with a huge twist. All in all this was a belter.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Puppet Graveyard by Tim Curran

This is the story of Kitty. One day she receives a letter that contains a lock of hair - she knows it's her sisters and sets out to find out what has happened to her. She knows she worked for a ventriloquist so she starts her search there. Soon she learns secrets she wishes she hadn't and things take a very sinister turn.....

This was brilliant! It was scary and atmospheric and creepy and did I mention scary? So much so that I had to step away from it for a bit as it was freaking me out a little. I love a book that can do that - even better as this was a novella. Busting at the seams with witchcraft and malevolence, this was definitely a wild ride - not one for the easily scared. I recommend it totally!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Infinity Twice Removed by Michael McBride

This is the story of Malcolm Jeffers. He was a Navy SEAL deployed in the Middle East until a serial killer known as 'The Infinity Killer' murders his wife and young son. On returning he vowed to find and deal with the person responsible. This he does, vigilante style and flees the scene. Fast forward 20 years and it seems like someone is copycatting the MO of The Infinity Killer when a rash of bodies shows up. Is there a new killer on the loose?

This was a good solid story. I liked the back and forth between past and present as it gave us a peek into the back story of the characters. I felt it could, however, have benefited from being longer. The pace was non-stop and I felt Malcolm's loneliness as he tried to fit in a world without his family. There were some truly gory bits and several places were quite chilling and the ending was quite spectacular. I recommend it as a great lunchtime read but I just wish it was longer.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Midnight Solitaire by Greg F. Gifune

This is the story of four strangers. They come together at a motel in a snowstorm. All are being chased down by a deranged and inhumanly sadistic serial killer known as The Dealer. Each of them has a reason for being there and over the course of the night they will fight for their lives. Who will die and who will make it until morning?

This is the second novella from this author that I have read and I was not disappointed. With a principle cast of five, and a barely used motel in the middle of nowhere, in a raging snowstorm made for a pretty tense and claustrophobic read. The first half of the story was spent introducing the characters, and I liked that because it meant you got to know them and care about what happened to them. About halfway through though, suddenly the action kicked in and I was left breathless by the end. The story was quite graphic in its gore, so not for the faint hearted! The ending was explosive, literally and a classic good versus evil battle. This is another brilliant dark horror that I totally recommend.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Apartment Seven by Greg F. Gifune

This is the story of Charlie. He thinks his life is perfect until he finds out his wife has been unfaithful. He leaves her and his life begins to spiral out of control downwards. Then he learns she has been seeing a second man, someone who lives on the bad side of town. What is his secret and what is the secret contained within Apartment Seven?

This was an interesting novella.  Over the course of one gritty and grim day we follow Charlie as he tries to make sense of what is going on. It borrows heavily from A Christmas Carol (which itself is featured in the story) but is much darker, and has a huge twist at the end. The authors writing is very descriptive and I found myself walking alongside Charlie as he chased down his demons. It was creepy in places and the pace was unrelenting. I recommend this as a great dark horror novella.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Wilderness Heart by Jaqueline Hopkins-Walton

This is the story of Lyn. She is chief guide for Taylors Outfitters and Guides, a company that guides people on animal hunts. She is strong minded, feisty and independent. She is in an unhappy relationship with Brad, a local lumber yard owner. She has an intense dislike of loggers and lumbar companies because of what they do to the land around the trees and another deep seated reason. Then she is asked to guide a group of men on an Elk hunt. The leader of the group, Nic Randall, has very negative feelings against women on hunts and their first meeting does not go well. After a near miss accident whilst on the hunt, their feelings towards each other soften. Can she put aside her feistiness and gather the courage to leave Brad and build a relationship with Nic or are her experiences with Brad destined to cloud her future forever?

I really enjoyed this. It was a nice light romance, but not too 'fluffy'. I loved Lyn's feistiness and the sparring between her and Nic. They played off each other really well and I was rooting for them to get together. The 'deep dark secret' Lyn was keeping from him as to why she hated lumber mills and logging was played out very well. All in all it was a lovely romance that had strong characters and a brilliant 'happy ever after' that left me with tears in my eyes. I totally recommend this as a nice light read that is also a lot of fun.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Matador Murders by Jerold Last

This is the fourth book involving Suzanne and Roger Bowman. This time around they are contacted by a South American friend asking them to come and help because a police officer friend of theirs was being accused of murdering his partner in the force. Along with their nanny Bruce and new baby Robert, they fly off to Montevideo to try and solve the murder. Before too long however they find themselves knee deep in drug wars and money laundering. Can they use their world renowned powers of deduction and help their friend prove his innocence?

This is the fourth Suzanne and Roger mystery I have read and once again I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although it is the fourth, very little reference is made to the previous mysteries so it works just as well as a standalone mystery. I loved the introduction of Bruce, as Roberts nanny. He adds a whole new dynamic to the mystery solving pair and it works well. I must admit I did miss the bad puns at the end of each chapter but there were enough sprinkled through the story to keep me happy. The story itself was fast paced and full of action. These mysteries just keep on getting better. Long may they continue!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Missing Years of Thomas Pritchard by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Thomas. He disappears from his bed suddenly when he is five. His parents never give up hope of finding him but eventually move on with their lives. Then 9 years later he turns up on the doorstep of their old house. No one knows where he has been but they are glad he is back. For Thomas he has many things to get used to, like a new sister and life back with his parents. Then strange things start happening around the house and Thomas begins to look like he is ageing....

This is a very poignant sci fi story. This is very much a change for Matt as it is not a horror story. It was strange in places, sad and heart wrenching. There were very few characters which made the story taut and tight. I like a good sci fi mystery and this was just that, it was sad, but at no point did it become maudlin or melodramatic. This is a very different style for Matt and he has pulled it off, with great style. A well paced sci fi mystery with a bit of an emotional ride in the middle. Well done Matt, it is great to see you diversifying and growing as a writer!

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Cabin by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Craig. Hoping for a quiet weekend at his father's old cabin to begin writing his new novel, his wife suggests the whole family go down for a break. After a fairly fraught journey, they arrive to find the cabin has been vandalised. Thinking it was no wonder as no-one has been to the cabin since Craigs fathers death many years before, he and his younger daughter go to the local shop to get cleaning supplies - that's when Craigs troubles really begin...

This was something totally different from Matt. Loosely based on legends locals tell of the local asylum cum retreat, it is a well crafted and very creepy ghost story. It is very easy to immerse yourself totally in the story and be completely unaware of your surroundings. It starts off relatively slowly - and the tension builds up quietly and unannounced in the background until you get walloped in the face by an ending I TOTALLY did not expect! The scary bits were REALLY scary, so much so that I actually scared myself at one point! As a departure of sorts from Matt, I am pleased to say it works, and works well.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Third Sight by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of Adrian. Unbeknownst to himself, a demon has targeted him and designated him to be a 'watcher'. Everyone Adrian knows and loves will be killed in ever more horrific ways. Soon everything Adrian thinks he know will be turned upside down and the fight for everyone and everything he knows and loves will take an epic turn. Can Adrian stop the demon or are his friends and family doomed?

Where do I start with this? I am worried my review won't do the book justice. First off, I will say there are a few typo's and formatting errors but I am not reviewing them, just the story, and they were not bad enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story. The story belted along and was all out action. At times quite gruesome action at that, not one for weak stomachs! Adrian's descent into almost madness as he tried to work out what was happening to him and what was real and what wasn't was a roller-coaster ride. It enjoyed every minute of this & it was so good I even dreamt about it! I recommend this totally.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Mirrored Blade by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of a pair of knives that possess souls. Andrea goes into her husbands study one day and finds a rusty old blade on his desk. In picking it up she has no idea that she has set a chain of events in motion that will change all their lives. Fast forward five years and her brother Gareth is determined to track down Andrea's killer. All he finds is one of the blades, and once again a chain of events is set off and now him and a misfit group of kids plus Andrea's husband must try and stop a madman from opening a rift between here and the realm of the dead.

This was a great story. It was a classic good versus evil story with a paranormal twist. The characters were solid and the pace was quick and speedy. I liked the switch in points of view at each chapter change, it kept things fresh and gave us a glimpse of what was going on on the other side of the story. This is longer than Ian usually writes and I felt it was better for it. It gave the characters a chance to develop and for the readers to care about them. This is a different offering from Ian, and I totally recommend it. In places it was reminiscent of Stephen King.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Blood Cell by Shaun Tennant

This is the story of Josh. He is a serial prison escapee who boasts that no prison can hold him, so he is sent to the impenetrable Pod C of Pittman Penitentiary. Now locked in with some of the worst gang members and murderers on record, he must keep his eyes open and his wits about him. Then one of the gangs starts a riot and all too soon he realises that they are not alone. Something is hunting them down one by one and it is hungry. Can Josh keep it together enough to survive, and escape with his life?

I really enjoyed this. It was certainly a different take on the 'been there, done that' vampire novel. I liked the idea that it was set in an impenetrable prison, kit made for some very claustrophobic scenes! Josh was the perfect anti-hero - trying to save his own neck plus the neck of a woman who shouldn't have been there in the first place. The story had shades of Dracula in it, with Norris being the head vampires 'familiar' ala Renfield. It was a great story with plenty of pace and action - but the ending fell a little flat. This was a shame really as the rest of the book was so good. I would still be happy to recommend it however.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Myra, Beyond Saddleworth by Jean Rafferty

This is the story of what might have happened had Myra Hindley not died in 2002. It sets forth the premise that she was released, under a new look and identity, not knowing she only had a short time left anyway. It charts the last few months of her life and the lives she touched in that time and the relationships she made along the way.

This was an interesting story. It was a difficult subject to write about and a highly emotive one, and for that reason alone I commend the author for tackling it. In no way were the crimes glorified and the author did not praise Myra at all. As I was reading, I found myself researching frequently on the internet. Not because I doubted the authors facts but because the story raised my natural curiosity. I like a book that makes me think and widen my horizons. The pace was a good one and I was instantly drawn into M's world. The writing was vivid and the characters were strong. I found it hard to read in places but that was because of the emotive subject. I thoroughly enjoyed this and recommend it totally.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Body in the Parking Structure by Jerold Last

This is a short novella involving Suzanne and Roger Bowman. This time around it is Suzanne who finds a body - in the parking lot at her workplace. Bringing back familiar characters and some new ones, plus something terribly wrong at a drug testing lab. Can Suzanne and Roger solve the mystery and find the killer?

This was a great little novella. Even if you haven't read any of the previous books, it doesn't matter as each character is introduced well. This was an intriguing mystery that got my brain cells working, as to who committed the murder and why the crime was committed. The story flowed well and the pace was good. This was a worthy addition to the Suzanne and Roger mysteries and a great place to start if you are a newcomer.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Self Publishing: Releasing your book to the Digital Market by Matt Shaw

This is a guide book written by a self published author for aspiring self published authors. It offers hints and tips, what to do, what not to do and the pitfalls to avoid.

Matt is a prolific author, with more than 25 books under his belt, so who better to advise people than someone who has experienced the good and bad of self publishing. Full of anecdotes and useful links, it is a good starting point for anyone new to self publishing. All in all, it is a great how to guide.

Friday, 31 August 2012

The Caline Conspiracy by M H Mead

This story is set in the future. Dogs are genetically engineered to be the perfect pets called calines. they are tailored to the needs and requests of the individual owner. One such caline, Madeline, stands accused of savaging her owner, a world famed geneticist, and is sentenced to execution. It is up to PI Aidra Scott top get to the bottom of things and find out if Madeline really is a killer or not.

This was a great mystery story and raised some great ethical questions. It was a pacy story with plenty of twists and turns. In a world where genetic engineering is OK for dogs but not so OK for people it painted some interesting pictures of what the future may look like, and how far people will go to get what they want. Some parts of the book I found myself asking 'Would I do that?', particularly the scenes regarding Quinn's baby. The ending was explosive and was right for the book. I do recommend this one, a great read.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Breakdown by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Brandon and Hollie. They have an accident in their car on the way home and are trapped for the night. Whilst waiting for help, they discuss Hollie's recent infidelities. When daybreak comes though Brandon dicovers that things are not at all what they seem....

This was a pocket rocket of a short. As usual we are drawn into the characters lives, and made to care about them. Then comes the sledgehammer of a twist in the ending. It's a little different from Matt's usual offerings and shorter than usual but it still works, and works well. A good short, that will appeal to everyone.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Duplicity by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of Henry Collins. Trapped in some caves with his wife, he encounters some shape-shifting humanoids. Henry and his wife are killed and eaten by them, and the humanoids assume their identities and lives. But these are the runts of the tribe, and their tribe is not happy they have escaped and are coming after them....

This was great, it reads a little like Invasion of the Body Snatchers but with a bit of twist. The action was unrelenting and the gore was pretty graphic in places. Not for the faint hearted! The characters were solid and the story just flowed. The ending was perfect. I recommend this one totally.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

100 Years of Brotherly Love by Linda Rae Blair

This is the story of Trick, Chase and Blade. Bonded as blood brothers when they were five, this story traces important events in their lives. Told in three stories, from each of the brothers points of view, it gives a glimpse into the lives of a rancher, a half native american lawyer and a full native american veterinarian. The stories tell of heartbreak and triumph and of significant moments in their lives. It also gives a glimpse into the native american way of life and some of their customs.

This was a fantastic story. Told from each of the brothers points of view, the descriptions of their lives and loves was rich and vivid. From the heartbreak of Trick's ranch problems, and the fallout after, to the joy of confirmed bachelor Chase finally finding his soulmate again and marrying her. It was a story that kept me coming back, as I just HAD to find out what was happening next in the brothers lives! The pace was just right and I was sad when it ended, as I knew there would be no more! I totally recommend this, it is a fantastic book, rich in culture and vivid in description and portrayal.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith

This is the story of Alison Temple (who fancies calling herself Alison Wonderland!). Cheated on by her husband, she now works for the detective agency she hired to follow her errant husband. She has been given a huge case to investigate involving improper activities and involving the worlds first 'shig' (a sheep crossed with a pig). Suddenly her friends are in danger after her daffy client turned best friend loses her address book. Now she must get to the bottom of the mystery before anyone is hurt. With a cast of kooky characters to help her on her way, it can't be that difficult, can it?

This was a fun little mystery. it had me laughing out loud in places. The cast of characters was fantastic and kooky. I particularly liked the interplay between Jeff and Alison and the 'will they won't they?' thread running through the story. The friendship between Taron and Alison was great as well, particularly as Taron is utterly bonkers! The problem for me though, and it was really only a small problem, was at times it felt like two different stories going on. On the one hand we had the major investigation, and then the road trip with Taron and Alison and the quest to find a baby for Taron's mother. That being said, I still loved the story and all the mental images it evoked! It was an enjoyable romp with laugh out loud characters and moments.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Romance is Dead by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Naomi. Fed up with her husbands constant sniping at her, she decides one day enough is enough and takes a frying pan to his head. Now she must work out how to cover up his sudden disappearance before too many questions are asked by friends and nosy neighbours.

I enjoyed this. It was something a little different from Matt again, it's good that he is exploring new areas whilst still sticking to what he knows best. This was a love story of sorts, but more an anti love story. The slow descent into semi madness that Naomi took was engaging and the tension was drawn out well. Some bits were quite funny as she ran around trying to work out how she was going to cover up her crime. Despite having a small cast - again a trademark of Matt's - the tension was ramped up and there were plenty of twists and turns on the way to a totally unexpected ending. It was a quick read and quite dark, possibly Matt's darkest yet. Once again he has delivered a blinder and has not disappointed. This should appeal to die hard Matt fans, fans of dark and twisted horror and new fans alike. Once again I find myself eagerly awaiting the next release.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Painted Black by Debra Borys

This is the story of Jo Sullivan. She is a reporter, writing short stories about the forgotten homeless of Chicago. This is a mystery and Jo must get to the bottom of a missing teenage prostitute, a dodgy funeral service that specializes in freeze drying corpses for those that can afford it, and a possible link between the two. With a Youth Worker and one of the prostitutes closest friends for help, she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery whilst fighting her own demons at the same time.

I enjoyed this immensely, but it was also quite gritty at the same time and made me think of the fates of others, especially the 'forgotten' homeless.  Whilst on the one hand highlighting the fate these teenagers have to face, it was also a good mystery at its heart. Jo and Chris are damaged in their own ways and must put aside their mistrust of each other to work together. It is a gripping story. A real page turner but also very sad. The characters were true to life and leapt out of the page at me, at times their pain was tangible. The ending was sad but right for the book. A great mystery that highlights the problems facing the homeless more or less every day. I shall certainly look out for more by this author.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Buried by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Todd. On his 21st birthday he wakes up trapped in a box, about to be (he thinks) buried alive. With only his fractured memories for company, he must try to work out how he got into the situation and why.

Once again Matt delivers. I have got to know his style quite well now, and this was a little bit different in that it had a happy ending of sorts. Well, a 'Matt' style happy ending at least! The journey to get there though was vintage 'Matt'! Blistering, dark, claustrophobic and ultimately very sad. A quick read, but a read that is best read in one hit as it is unputdownable! I love Matt's work and eagerly look forward to each new release, and once again he has not disappointed. Keep them coming Matt - your fan base is growing!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Normal for Norfolk by Mitzi Szereto & Teddy Tedaloo

This is the story of Thelonius T. Bear. He has sold his flat in London, ostensibly to take photos for his job as a photojournalist, but also to sample the Norfolk lifestyle, and maybe relocate there. As he begins to settle into his possibly new life, publicans are being murdered all around him. The local head of CID has him in the frame for the crimes and seems to be following him everywhere. Throw in the over-amorous landlady of the B & B Thelonius is staying at and suddenly relocating doesn't seem so attractive! Can Thelonius convince the police he is innocent?

I so wanted to enjoy this. It had all the makings of a fantastic cosy mystery but in the end it just didn't deliver. It had some genuine laugh-out-loud moments but was spoiled by pages and pages of long paragraphs with no breaks. It got so bad at one point, I nearly gave up, but I didn't, feeling I owed it to the author to persevere. The descriptions of the characters were brilliant and I found myself warming to one or two of them. The actual mystery itself took so long to get going, I almost forgot what the plot was! All in all it was a great idea that was marred by over-long paragraphs and too much 'padding'.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Surfing in Stilettos by Carol E Wyer

This is the story of Amanda. She has decided to take a 'gap' year off and travel around Europe with her husband Phil in their camper van, that she has affectionately named Bernie. Along the way Bernie breaks down and they find themselves taking an extended stay in France. There Amanda befriends a chic frenchwoman Bibi, takes on a stepdog and works on her blog. When a family disaster forces Phil to return to the UK, she puts all her energy into her new lifestyle and her blog. Will she stay in France or return to the UK to be reunited with Phil?

I loved this. Parts of it were laugh out loud funny and some parts were very poignant. The addition of the blog to break up the chapters was a great idea, as I felt I was taking a sneaky peak into Amanda's life and she became more real to me. I understand this is a sequel of sorts but it never felt like I was missing out having not read the first. The pacing was just right and the ending was both funny and sad at the same time. I would recommend this as a light hearted down to earth read that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Mutilation Machination by Shaun Jeffrey

This is an anthology of 8 short stories. There is a theme of the darkness of the human soul running through them.

These were really creepy. The author does a good job of making you look over your shoulder as you read them! One or two of them had me scratching my head a bit, but this did not lessen my enjoyment of them any. On the whole it was an enjoyable romp through the darkness of the author's mind! I totally recommend this anthology but say don't read them on your own or in the dark as you may find yourself seriously freaked out, as I did!

Chemical Flowers by Ian Woodhead & Suzanne Reeves

This is the story of a town called Sedgely. Something has gone horribly wrong in the town. Maria's brother has gone missing and he was last seen at a chemical plant there. Now she has come to Sedgely to find out what has happened to him. What she finds is a nightmare. Plant and human hybrids are tearing up the town, due to a chemical spill at the plant. What started off as a green eco fuel has now mutated into something far more dangerous and seemingly unstoppable. Maria, along with Harry, a townie who has lost his daughter, must solve the mystery and save the town from the horror.

Phew! Having just finished this, I am gasping for air. What a non-stop ride that was! Just the right amount of sex and gore to keep readers interested (made me think of a Richard Laymon book actually in that respect!) and a storyline that any B movie would be proud to show. Some parts were seriously creepy and I will certainly be looking at harmless plants in a whole new light! There were the usual good, bad and slapworthy characters, and the ending some of them met was wonderful. The ending was wonderful and seemed to me to leave it open for another. Suffice to say I hope this isn't these two authors only collaboration, as I think this could be the beginning of something big with a dream team at the helm.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Smile by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Alex. He has been sent to take his younger brother Lewis shopping to give their worn-out mother a break. Lewis has ADHD and is a complete handful. They go to the shopping centre and buy shoes for Lewis, then Alex goes to look for trainers for himself. Lewis has a tantrum about going to the toy shop first and storms out of the shop. Alex isn't worried however as he has stopped outside the shop window. Then Alex turns around again and Lewis has gone. Thus starts a frantic race against time to find Lewis before the shopping centre closes, then two more women come forward and say their children are missing too......... Can they all be found before it is too late?

This started off as any parents/big brothers nightmare, losing a child in a packed shopping centre. As a parent of two boys of similar age to Lewis, I homed in on the panic very quickly. Seen through his brother Alex's eyes, the story tells of his frantic search for his brother before having to tell his mother what has happened. It was another tautly told tale with a lot going in a short space of time but never felt rushed. The characters were well developed and I felt for Alex. The ending was shocking. A truly horrific tale but in a good way. Matt hits the button again!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Wrap Time by Darren & David Scothern

This is the story of Michael Aston. He is awoken one morning by thunderous banging on his door. It is the police arresting him for an attempted murder he has no recollection of committing. He is taken to the cells, and there he blacks out, only to wake up in his bed to thunderous banging on the door. He finds himself stuck in a sort of ground-hog day. Can he solve the mystery or is he doomed to be arrested again and again?

I rather enjoyed this short novella. It was well-written and the characters were well rounded. The struggle that Michael went through as he tried to piece together what was happening to him was tragic. I thought the idea of leaving himself notes along the way was a clever one. This was a great idea, skilfully executed, with plenty of twists and turns to the satisfying ending.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Fresh Start by Matt Shaw

This is Vanessa's story. The third instalment in the 'Peter Chronicles' and the last of the trilogy, we see events unfold through Vanessa's eyes. Peter is gone but not forgotten, can she escape the house and make a fresh start or is it too late?

This story is seen entirely from Vanessa's point of view. We are with her every step of the way as she continues her attempts to escape. As her mind starts to unravel, events take a sinister turn. Once again Matt has given us a tense and taut little tale. It's not easy to do an entire story from one person's point of view but Matt has pulled it off and then some!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Paying the Price by Simon Gould

This is the story of detectives Patton and Holland. They are tasked to join detective Axon to try and solve a series of bank robberies. They think Senator Conway may be involved but do they have enough information to convict him at last? And what will happen when one of LAPD's top negotiators finds out his son has been kidnapped, can Patton and Holland get to the bottom of everything before it's too late?

This is the third outing for detectives Michael Patton and Charlie Holland. They are still on the tail of Senator Conway but he keeps slipping out of their grasp. Now they are teaming up with detective Shawn Axon to solve some high profile bank robberies. Throw in a side story of an exclusive club that holds some dark secrets and you have a high octane rollercoaster of a thriller. Whilst this is the third in a series, it does stand up well on it's own although some mentions are made to previous events. There were plenty of twists and turns and one or two shocks along the way! The ending was extremely explosive and left the way open for more to come.

Monday, 16 July 2012

A Christmas to Remember (Twisted Tales) by Matt Shaw

This is a choose your own adventure. It is very dark though. It gives many options. It has two main endings and quite a few dead ends, which extends the length of the book.

This was interesting! It was a typical 'Choose your own Story' in its design, but certainly not typical in content! Some parts were very dark and quite graphic so be warned. I loved the fact that there were quite a few dead ends, one of which has Matt telling the reader off for their choices, which I thought was a nice touch. I appreciate this isn't going to appeal to everyone, but if you like Matt's work and you like this sort of story then it's win win all round! A divergence for Matt but I don't think that's a problem, I think his reader pool can only grow!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Christmas Spirit by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Chad, it's Christmas Eve and he has great plans for this Christmas. He's going to propose to Kate and they are going to live happily ever after. But things don't always go to plan do they?

I liked this, I liked this very much. It was a Christmas Carol but with a McKinney twist to it. It was very cleverly done and for a short story was crammed full of action. The amount of detail though didn't feel rushed in any way. There was a neat little twist at the end that was unexpected. Another great story that I totally recommend.

Takers by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of a family. They have gone on holiday to a secluded island. Thinking they are alone, they enjoy the sand and surf until it is time to go home. Then the heavens open, but it isn't rain. what falls out of the sky is far more horrific, and will change their lives forever....

This was a very creepy and slightly gross story from the master story teller. A story of worms taking over humans and turning them into sort of zombies. Once again a lot of action was packed into a short story and I enjoyed it immensely. A roller-coaster of a story that I recommend.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Patchouli by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Stu, handyman to an apartment block. A new neighbour has moved in, and she seems to be surrounded by the scent of patchouli. He becomes obsessed with her and what is hiding behind her apartment door.

This was quite steamy for Jerry, and quite odd. I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think about the people around me and the secrets they are hiding! Stu found out and regretted it after! Another great tale from the twisted mind of Jerry McKinney, read it and enjoy it.