Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Fit to Kill by Donnie Whetstone

This is the story of a personal trainer who acts out his fantasies of killing his clients by brutally murdering other people. It is up to a slightly damaged female detective to try and put the pieces together and solve the mystery before any more people are killed.

After a fairly lengthy introduction - that set the scene for a story set in the world of high fitness - this story took off. It was a very clever thriller. Things were done so that it kept you guessing most of the way through. It was graphic and violent and I loved it. Tara was the damaged detective, who usually relies on her gut instinct steering her right. After a case went wrong a couple of years before, she is no longer sure about her instincts and begins to doubt herself. Meanwhile the killer is well on his way to serial killer status by acting out all sorts of fantasies by brutalising his victims. This was fast paced, detailed (almost too much so in places) and had a mind blower of an ending. A great serial killer thriller for lovers of the genre.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Nuclear Winter Wonderland by Joshua Corin

This is the story of Adam. On the way to his Uncle's funeral, his twin sister Anna is abducted by a lunatic hell bent on setting off 12 nuclear bombs on Christmas Eve. Chaos then ensues as Adam hunts for Anna. In his quest he teams up with a church robbing mobster called Filbert and a Croatian clown called Cherry Sundae who appears to only speak Spanish. Along the way he meets all manner of weird and wonderful people, some who help and some who hinder him in his search for his sister.

This was on the face of it a thriller, but it was irreverent and laugh out loud funny. Over the course of 6 days poor Adam goes through more drama than any sane person should. The trouble is he's an idiot and bad luck seems to follow him. That being said he is a loveable idiot. I loved the characters - all nutters the lot of them but I cared about what happened to them and where their stories took them. The pace of the book was brilliant and I could not put it down, eventually reading it in two sittings. The humour was spot on, and the thriller aspects were, well, thrilling! The ending was great, and felt right for the book. It was an enjoyable romp and I couldn't help but feel for Adam as he tried desperately to find his but being blocked at every turn. I recommend this for people who like their thrillers with a touch of humour.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Reluctant Hero by John Hickman

This is the story of Bill Honey (later to be called Hickman), known as Ballsy Bill or Arsey Bill. He is the authors father and this is his war story. It is a war biography telling the tale of Bill's experiences during the Second World War, from early life to joining the RAF and his war efforts. It tells of meeting his wife and the birth of his son through to his demobbing at age 23.

This was an interesting read. It was poignant, at times funny and the author told the story of his father's war time experiences with a fondness that shone through. Yes it was 'another war biography' but it was much more than just a recanting of wartime experiences. The different ops Bill went on were told in stark frankness and I learned so much more about WW2 than I ever did in history. My own grandfather flew Lancaster Bombers during the war and it made me realise how lucky I was to have him during my life when so many men didn't come home. Alongside the horrors of war and Bills continuing disillusion in the RAF and the powers that be - we had tales of life at home and meeting his wife and the birth of his son (the author). In short this is a great telling of the life of the author's father. I recommend it for lovers of biographies, war stories and history alike.

Monday, 21 May 2012

False Positives by Kim Aleksander

This is the story of a 'ghost in the machine'. In the 1970's a university student developed a computer virus. When it was accidentally fed into a computer nothing happened, or so they thought. Fast forward nearly 40 years and a new computer program has been designed to investigate terrorists and acts of terrorism. Something has gone wrong though and now it is sanctioning killing anyone with terrorist links. The engineer of the program has to find out why and how to resolve the bugs before any more innocent people are killed.

This was a page turner. I found it absolutely captivating. We started off with three distinct threads to the story and about halfway through they started to twist and converge on each other. Then things really started to heat up as characters were revealed, truths learned and lies unearthed. The main leads were great and played off each other very well. The settings were diverse, we went from Tehran to Bangkok and onto the USA via Vietnam. The descriptions were vivid, making me feel I was there. The pace was cracking and the ending was hopeful, if a bit sad. A great book for scifi/technothriller fans.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Seeing Julia by Katherine Clare Owen

This is the story of Julia. A woman broken by tragedy. She has lost her parents, her first true love and now her husband has heartbreakingly died as well. All this to the backdrop of a never forgotten first kiss in Athens just before her parents were killed. After a shocking accident/suicide attempt after her husbands funeral her life seems to go downhill and she must sort out her priorities and get things back together for the sake of her baby son. With the help of her close friends and therapist she begins to do just that. Will she find love again or is she destined to only know sadness?

This was a very well paced story. It was quite long but I didn't notice as I ate up the pages on my Kindle. What Julia had to go through was well handled and never dissolved into melancholy. I felt for her as she reeled from blow to blow and breakdown to breakdown to emerge a stronger woman with the help of her best friends and therapist. All the while in the background is the on again off again friendship with the mysterious Jake. Does he hold secrets to her past? I laughed and I cried during the reading of this book. At times I wanted to slap Julia but the ending made it all worth it. This is a great book for fans of Jodi Picoult and the like.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bet You Can't.....FIND ME! by Linda Prather

This is the story of Catherine. She is a gifted psychic who uses that gift to find missing people and investigate arson insurance claims. Now someone is killing off members of her family, and friends of her family - a family she had left behind 10 years before. Who knows her so well that they could do such a thing?

This was a very clever thriller with many twists and turns. Catherine was brilliant as the heroine trying to piece together her past to try and find out who the killer was, and why they were trying to frame her. The pace was quick and relentless and at times left me breathless. The descriptions of New Orleans and the Bayou made me feel like I was there. There was a huge twist in the tale and when the twist was revealed, everything else made sense! I loved the idea of using a psychic killer, after all how do you catch someone you can't see? The ending was climactic And seemed to leave the way open for more - possibly a series? I recommend this as a totally different kind of thriller - a psychic thriller.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Calico by Allison Bruning

This is the story of a young girl named Calico. She is destined to be nobility with her twin sister. Sadly her parents have died and her sister has been sent away while she is brought up Shawnee. (A Native American tribe). She grows up to be a beautiful and powerful healer woman. Sadly she is abused and brutalised by a shaman she looks on as a father. The spirits have prophesied that she will marry a war chief who hates everything she is and stands for and he will be the one to end her suffering. Can Calico find the love and peace she has been searching for?

Where do I start with this? I am afraid nothing I say can do it justice! I have just finished reading and I am stunned by the range of emotions I feel. (Addendum to draft I wrote last night - I woke up this morning having dreamt about the book. To me this is a sign of a good book!!) My heart goes out to Calico for she has suffered. (But at times I did want to slap her for her utter stubbornness!) This was a total page turner, steeped in history and I enjoyed every word. I found myself transported to a time and place I knew nothing about and learned so much through Calico's eyes. I was sad when it ended because it meant there would be no more! I totally recommend this and am eager to read book 2 when it is ready.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Campfire Chillers by Dave Jeffery

This is an anthology of short stories. They are all the sort of stories that could be told around the camp-fire on a camping trip.

I loved these. They are all just creepy enough to have you looking over your shoulder in the dead of night. They are the sort of story you would tell with a torch under your chin whilst toasting marshmallows and drinking hot cocoa. I loved the fact that they had a narration of sorts at the beginning as an introduction to each story. It put me in mind of the beginning of the Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. The stories all had a little bit of 'what if' about them, and put a delicious shiver down my spine. Don't read these alone in the dark! A great antho by a great author.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Midnight Movie Creature Feature by Various Authors

This is an anthology of short stories with monsters as it's theme. These are designed to have a 1950's b-movie feel to them.

These stories were great. There were one or two of the stories that I must admit I went 'Hmmmm?' but by and large they were pretty good with a couple of standout knockouts! The whole book had a cheesy b-movie feel to it but that was the point - and it's charm. I was almost sitting there with my giant bucket of popcorn as I read. There were 17 stories in all and each was just the right length to keep me occupied without being overlong. A great antho with a plethora of different monsters to keep the fussiest monster officianado happy!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Hym and Hur by Phillip Frey

This is the story of Hym and Hur, a couple who have been in love a long time and never age. They love playing pranks on people with their special powers. This time however they have made a deal with Death in exchange for a good deed. They may choose someone to save people from dying by touch alone, for 24 hours. But this is Death and there is always a loophole....

This was a deliciously funny little tale. I loved the pranks Hym & Hur played and the funny interventions they made into peoples lives, whether for the best or not. The story ran smoothly and the characters were believable. The end was very sweet and I would love to read more of this author's work.

Poor Man's Stuffing by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of Amy. She is relentlessly bullied by two girls at school. She feels she has no friends, and the only 'people' she can talk to are her stuffed toys. Then she is asked out by a boy who has more in common with her than she will ever know, and the girls will regret ever bullying her as her toys are on her side.

This was a slick twist in the tale story. The pace was quick and the narrative crisp. Amy was great as the damaged heroine, and I was quite shocked when the twist was revealed. It was very cleverly done with not much space to work with! A good quick lunchtime read that will have you looking at your teddies in a very different light!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Lessons IV:The Dead Carnival by Michael Crane

This is a group of what they call 'drabbles'. Stories of exactly 100 words or less. These have the theme of carnivals.

I have read all 4 of Mike's drabble books and I have enjoyed every one. This was no exception. The tales were tight and well written and most of them had a little twist in the tale. At the end were a few bonus drabbles by some other authors, some of whose works I have read and others that I hadn't. I recommend this as a quick read that will pull chills up your spine.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Holiday of the Dead by Various Authors

This is anthology of 38 zombie stories with holidays as a theme. Be it vacation holidays or public holidays.

I will put my hand up and say I am not a fan of the zombie genre on the whole. I have read a couple of zombie novellas and enjoyed them, and this. This has changed my mind totally. This is the perfect introduction to the genre for people unsure. Bite sized chunks of zombie goodness that are perfect to dip in and out of. There is also a bonus story from 'Night of the Living Dead' co-author, John Russo. This one is not a zombie story but it is a very clever little story nonetheless! In conclusion, this is a belter of an antho I totally recommend.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Becoming by Allan Leverone

This is the story of a mine in Tonopah, Pennsylvania. Closed in 1925 when a miner went missing amid stories of the mine being haunted and inhabited by strange creatures, it has lain dormant and sealed for almost 90 years - until now. Tim McKenna plays hookey from school to explore the mine after learning about it in class. Then he disappears. For more than 24 hours he is missing, and then suddenly he turns up in bed as if nothing had happened. Somehow he is different though, and now the lives of his family will change forever....

I must admit I am slightly biased about this author's work, having read most of his work. I have not read a bad book from him yet and look forward to each new release with excitement. This novella did not disappoint. It was short but packed to the gills. The idea of some sort of alien entity lying dormant in a mine and being reawakened by a curious schoolboy was different and I was burning up my Kindle to find out how it ended. As usual the author had done his research and the first chapter set in the mine was extremely claustrophobic and I had more than a few shivers up my spine! The ending was great and left me thinking - what if? I recommend this as a fast paced quick read with more than it's fair share of back of the neck chills.