Saturday, 30 June 2012

G.S.O.H. Essential by Matt Shaw

This is the first in the 'Peter Chronicles' as I like to call them. It is the prequel to Happy Ever After. In this Peter is looking for 'The One' and he thinks he may have found her in the local supermarket. All he has to do is get her home...

Having read Happy Ever After before this, I knew somewhat what to expect and I wasn't disappointed. Just as dark and malevolent as it's successor, the events of this story serve as a sort of trial run for the events of Happy Ever After. Once again we find out Peter is not firing on all cylinders, and his idea of love and togetherness is truly warped. Seen through the eyes of both Peter and Susie in differing points of view, the story builds up to fever pitch tension. I recommend this totally, as a great start to a great series.

Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

This is the story of an ancient evil. Three hundred years previously Thessaly Cross was condemned to death for being a witch. Despite many attempts to kill her, she remained alive. Eventually Preacher Fell decided to bury her alive. Then she set the field on the townspeople, many were killed that day and in desperation the Preacher impaled himself on her broomstick and she pulled him down into the soil with her. Fast forward three hundred years and Maddy Harker is fed up of being constantly abused by her husband Vic, so she murders him with a frying pan. She buries him in the field where Thessaly's remains lay. Three days later he comes back, a monster born of hatred, soil and bone. Now the town is in trouble as Vic proclaims himself the Straw King, the Tatterdemon, commanding an army of zombie scarecrows. Thus begins the ancient battle of evil versus good, and all the while Thessaly is plotting and waiting....

I am a little worried about this review. Not because I hated the book, far from it, I loved it. I am worried anything I say will not do it justice! To me reading it felt like a classic Stephen King (think The Stand) with some vintage Richard Laymon thrown in. I was gripped from page one. The battle of good against evil is a timeless one but the idea of zombie scarecrows was both different and brilliant. It was tense in places, gory in others but it also had a lot of tongue in cheek humour thrown in. Some scenes really cracked me up. I have read Steve's work before and he never fails to disappoint, this being no exception. Trust me when I say this is a this is out of the ball park and a home run!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Macabre by Lori Lopez

This is the story of Gilly. She lives next door to a haunted windmill. All she wants to do is get away from town. All her life she has suffered nightmares and she wonders if the windmill is the key.

This is more of a simple (if a story of Lori's could be described as simple!) haunted house type story. It had a nice pace and good imagery. Gilly was fantastic as the needy, whiny teenager trying to work out what is going whilst trying desperately to get away. I love haunted house stories because of the imagery they conjure up and this was no exception.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Bedeviled by Lori Lopez

This is the story of an ear demon. Two insect researchers go to Africa to try and find an undiscovered bug. Unbeknownst to themselves, one of them brings back a demon lodged in his ear. Chaos and confusion then ensue.

This was quite a funny little story but it made you think as well. It has a sort of 'what if?' feel about it. I don't necessarily mean what if about ear demons but bugs lodged in ears etc. George underwent seven shades of hell trying to dislodge the demon and the chaos that was caused in the meantime was hilarious. I like stories like this. You can see what the outcome will be in your mind's eye but are powerless to do anything about it. Fantastic, and darn funny to boot.

Heartbeat by Lori Lopez

This is a zombie tale with a difference. Zombies are about but treated more like the homeless. A group of kids try to 'tame' them by feeding them cadavers brains, so they won't need to go hunting. Then one of the boys mother's boyfriend gets bitten. Now they have a race against time before he turns and bites the boys mother.

This is an interesting take on the zombie genre. Zombies have become the norm but are still more or less shunned by society, but there is a group of boys who 'sympathise' with them and their plight whilst still realising how dangerous they are. So when on of the boys mothers gets bitten he has a crisis of conscience. Does he try to save her or dispatch her? It raises an interesting ethical question. Is it OK to dispatch so long as it is someone you don't know? Beautifully written with great pathos. I recommend this.

Monday, 25 June 2012

9 Months:Book One by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Jessica. She has been asked out by Darren and he seems to be the boy of her dreams. Things develop and she finds herself pregnant. After much soul searching, she decides not to carry on with the pregnancy. That's when her problems really begin and she is kidnapped by someone who is determined she will deliver her baby.

This was another dark, dark story. This seems to be Matt's style and it appeals to my own dark side. It has a principle cast of 4 or 5, and focuses on Jessica and her acceptance (or not!) of her situation. Told in flashback and in the present and told from the different point of views of Jessica and Darren, it was gripping stuff. The parts that focussed on Jessica's captivity were particularly claustrophobic. The tension was built up to fever pitch and the book ended in such a way as to ensure that the reader has to read the next.

Happy Ever After by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Pete and Vanessa. All Peter wants is for Vanessa to love him and for them to live happily ever after. All Vanessa wants is for Peter to un-cuff her and let her go.

This was very dark and quite graphic but was still thoroughly engrossing, and no less enjoyable for it. Told in alternate points of view from Vanessa and Peter, it is actually the second story in a series of three but still stands alone quite well. It was recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad she did! It is unrelenting but fantastic. Peter is slightly demented, no actually he's quite psychotic...and sees the world differently from most people. Vanessa is his hapless victim but she has an inner strength and refuses to give up. Great stuff! I am looking forward to the others now.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Chocolate Covered Eyes by Lori Lopez

This is a collection of six of Lori's best stories preceded by a poem called 'Chocolate Covered Eyes'. All the stories have a horror theme and are slightly macabre.

This is the first taste I have had of Lori's work and I think I shall be coming back for more. She has an irreverent, humorous style that certainly appeals. The stories were deliciously dark, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. If I have one criticism, it would be the constant use of long and 'fancy' words - I found myself reaching my dictionary quite a lot! On the plus side I have expanded my vocabulary by some way. This is just a minor niggle though and I still recommend this as a great and enjoyable anthology.

Unleashed:Tail One by Lori Lopez

This is the story of a cat, a dog, a family and a detective hell bent on getting to the bottom of a 'suspicious' death. The old man next door has been found dead and the Smith's reported a commotion at their door on the same night. Detective MacKowski is determined to find out what happened whatever the cost....

This was a humorously dark little tale. Told in different points of view from the cat, dog and the detective. it was an interesting read, and certainly made me look at my cats in a whole new light, wondering what they get up to when we are all asleep! I giggled to myself as the cat plotted and ingratiated herself into the Smith family, leaving the devoted dog out in the cold. The detective was brilliant as a bumbling fool, dedicated to his cause no matter the cost. I recommend this for animal lovers and dark tale lovers alike.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hell House by Richard Matheson

This is the story of a house. Owned by a man named Emeric Belasco. This house has a reputation for being the most haunted house of it's kind, it's even called Hell House. It has supposedly destroyed the lives or minds of all the mediums and people that have tried to get to the bottom of it's mystery. Only one has survived, Ben Fischer. Along with three others, he has been tasked with finding the mystery out once and for all and he is being paid $100,000 to do it. Along with Florence Tanner, a spiritualist medium, Lionel Barrett, a parapsychological debunker and Lionel's wife Edith, they have seven days to solve the mystery. Can they solve it or will they be destroyed as well?

This was fantastic. For a book that is forty years old it has certainly stood the test of time. It was a slow build, culminating in a explosion of an ending. The interaction between the characters was believable and at times endearing. It had its creepy moments, sometimes I was genuinely scared! All in all I totally recommend this, as a truly old school haunted house type book. I couldn't put it down, and neither will you!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Death Bonds by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Linda and Cliff. Their marriage is in trouble, Cliff having had a drinking problem and ending up in jail and Linda having an affair whilst Cliff was in the jail. Cliff's Uncle Ned hands them a lifeline in a a new job opportunity so they decide to move to Western Oregon for a new start. What they don't know is 2 little girls (twin sisters) were murdered in their new house and these dead don't rest easily.......or at all....

This is a good old fashioned ghost story but with a bit of nastiness and a sprinkling of 'Jerryness'. For a short tale it was fast paced and I truly felt for Linda as she began to think she was going mad. Buck was creepy and he truly gave me shivers up my spine. And when the ending came, it came and socked me in the chops. Grab this and enjoy it, it's a good one!

Abe by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Abe. He had a fairly rotten childhood. Now he is grown up he has an eye for the ladies. And they never leave they....?

This is one of those stories that really gets under your skin. You are reading it and thinking 'OK this is a little weird.' and you carry on and the ending is suddenly, 'Wait...what???' This is why I love Jerry's writing because he is constantly surprising me. It's not even as if Abe is a particularly likeable character but somehow you still end up feeling sorry for him. In this aspect Jerry is a very clever writer. Give this a go, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Lie Canthropy by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Mack and Joe and a little girl who comes into town once a week. Mack is curious to know why she comes into town and asks Joe. Joe admits he knows about her and where she lives. He also knows why she comes into town each week, he begins to tell Mack the story...

Once again, a thought provoking story from Jerry. A story that takes you on a slow build to a truly shocking and totally unexpected ending. I don't know how Jerry keeps doing this but each story I read gets better and better. I care about all the characters, good and bad and want to know what happens to them. Great stuff, more please.

Tears of Love by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of two brothers - Spud and Charles. One day they decide to go and investigate claims of the dead body of a woman by a creepy old house called the Theine House. The horrors they find there are just the beginning....

This was another belter. Jerry truly has the ability to get inside your head, smoosh it around a bit and leave you gasping at the end. This is the tale of sibling love. A love that was lost, found and then lost forever again. It was truly sad and my heart went out to Spud for the loss of his innocence that day. To everyone else I say, get this, read it and enjoy it!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Dug Up by Jerry McKinney

The is a set of six short stories. The beginning story is the original draft of the end story, and Jerry's first foray into the writing business.

A great story collection! It is quite unusual to read an anthology that has no bad stories, but this is it. Every single story was a master-crafted roller-coaster of a tale. I particularly liked the idea of including the two drafts of The Feed and Feed. you could see how much Jerry's writing has grown in the 18 months between the two stories. Each story in this anthology started off one way and kept you guessing until the shocker of a climax. The mark of a good story to me is one that makes you think 'What the hell just happened???'. All of these are just that and more.

Feed by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Ian. He picks up Penny one night and goes back to her place. Due to her child walking in on them, she turns him into a vampire, and things go from bad to worse for him from then on.

This was an interesting story. The story of a vampire with a conscience. A nice, reasonably cosy story you might think? Don't be daft! This is Jerry McKinney, cosy is not in his vocabulary. He takes you down one path and then wallops you on the back of the head before leading you round another bend. The ending to this one was so unexpected I was sitting on my bed open mouthed for a good 5 minutes! Read it and enjoy.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Dog Trots Globe - To Paris & Provence (A Sheltie Goes to France) by Sheron Long

This is the story of Chula, a Shetland Sheepdog who travels to France, from California, at the grand old age of nine. It chronicles her adventures from Provence, to Paris, and back home again. There is even a handy hints and tips for travelling on an aeroplane with a dog which is very helpful!

I loved this! It is a lovely, feel good book. It has lots of lovely photos of the journey, with the story built around them. It is an interactive book with some videos to go with it that can either be viewed on a PC or an iPad. This is a brilliant idea and just enriches and extends the experience. I felt I was there with Chula experiencing all the sights and smells along with her. I hope Chula goes on more adventures abroad, for I most certainly will be going along with her!

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

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Flesh & Blood by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Jessie. We begin with the death of his dog due to rabies and end with the death of his father.

This was terribly sad. It was short but action packed. We start with Jessie having to shoot his own dog due to rabies, and his father entreating him to 'Deal with your own!'. I truly felt for Jessie, having to make decisions and choices no 12 year old should have to make. We watched him start off a boy and become a man come the end. It is the moving account of the effect of a zombie invasion on one family, but the zombie action was somehow secondary to the family dynamics that were going on. All in all a moving and fast-paced story. The author has produced another quality short story!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Wishbone by Brooklyn Hudson

This is the story of Julien and Rachael. A couple with a seemingly perfect life (albeit Julien is battling with some childhood demons). This is brought to a crashing halt on their 9th wedding anniversary when Rachael is brutally attacked and raped and loses their unborn baby. Becoming emotionally unstable, Rachael is in dire need of help. Julien in desperation decides a move to the country might be beneficial. He finds a beautiful mansion and they make the move to the mountains. All seems to be going well and Rachael even seems back to normal until Julien starts to have strange accidents and Rachael begins to change. In a bid to find out what is going on - well that's when their troubles REALLY begin.

This was phenomenal. It was page turning old school psychological horror that gripped me from page one and had some seriously creepy moments! Julien and Rachael are awesome together, taken in by the 'game' never realising the truth, and the horror behind it. The different scenarios and obstacles they encountered had me turning page after page to find out exactly what was going on. Despite their initial greed, when secrets were revealed and tides turned, I had tears in my eyes whilst holding my breath hoping it would all work out. I recommend this for old school fans and genre readers alike - it is page turning horror and not for the faint hearted. I can even see this being optioned for the big screen!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dead in the Trunk by Craig Saunders

This is an eclectic collection of short stories. Some are scary, some are eerie and some are downright bone chilling.

From the deadly creepy Mudman to Slate, this collection of stories does not let up on the heart pumping adrenaline ride. I enjoyed every one. I tend to read antho's at night because it's easy to read a short when you are falling least that's what I USUALLY do. Not so with these! I was kept awake, heart thumping, deep breathing, jumping at every shadow. I totally recommend this antho and introduce Craig Saunders as the next big thing in self-publishing.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

White Lies by Jeremy Bates

This is the story of Katrina. She picks up a hitch-hiker on the way to moving to a new town. He is drunk and belligerent and to get him out of the car she tells a little white lie about where she lives. This is just the start of her problems. When she begins her new job as a teacher, she notices to her horror that her hitch-hiker is a fellow teacher at the same school. A chance meeting with a man, Jack, in a hardware store leads to Katrina falling in love with him. But Jack is not all he seems and one little white lie soon becomes many and things threaten to spiral out of control. Can Katrina sort everything out before it becomes too late and she gets in too deep?

Wow - just wow! Now that's what I call a thriller!! This grabbed me by my forelock and did not let go until the extremely explosive ending. Katrina starts off telling a little fib for survival more than anything. Who knew that one fib would turn into many and end up haunting her for a long time? We had great build up and scene setting for about half of the book and then bam! The action took off in a shocking and quite violent way. Then the story galloped along and concluded in a brilliant manner. Katrina was great as the heroine paying for one little white lie and her supporting cast of characters all shone in their roles. I recommend this as a fast paced thriller that packs a wallop.

In Extremis by Jerry McKinney

This is an eerie little zombie short. It tracks a priest and his church from first invasion to its shocking conclusion. Told in reverse it is a fast paced, punchy little story.

This was both shocking and terribly sad at the same time. There are 2 principle characters, the priest, Job and his assistant, nun Claire. The author packs an amazing amount in a short space of time but it never feels rushed or crammed. Told in reverse we start with a zombified priest tied to a bed. We are then taken on a whirlwind journey from the first invasion to the ending, and what a shocking ending! It is a great short story for zombie lovers and would not look out of place in a great anthology. This is the first piece I have read from the author and I am eager to read more!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Charlotte, Prowling for Enchantment by Mima

This is a 'choose your own adventure' story. It is about Charlotte. Her grandmother has just died and she decides to go on a cruise to have fun. Unbeknownst to herself she has gone on a 'Fantastical Singles' cruise. She finds herself amongst all manner of paranormal creatures, and finds out a little something about herself along the way.

This was great fun to read. I used to love these sorts of adventures when I was younger so I was eager to read this. Some of the stories were fairly linear, some were quite wild and one or two were really quite steamy. All though were a hoot and I thoroughly enjoyed finding and choosing each story.

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

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Chasing the Cyclone by Peter Thomas Senese

This is the story of Paul. Estranged from his wife, he is in the middle of a bitter custody battle with a woman who makes it abundantly clear she does not want her ex-husband to have anything to do with their son. Before too long it becomes obvious that she is going to flee with their son, and thus Paul begins the battle to find his son and be reunited with him at all costs!

This was an amazing and poignant story. Written in a sort of autobiographical manner but changing the names to protect the innocent. We are taken on the heart breaking and often frustrating journey of trying to find an abducted child. The mother is corrupt, her lawyers are corrupt, it even seems like the courts are corrupt. The story was written in a very personal manner so you felt you were there feeling every heartache and setback. I have a criticism though, and it is only a small one. It is the authors tendency to write in large chunks of paragraph, sometimes whole pages of my kindle, it made it difficult to read at times, but did not detract from my overall enjoyment, and relief at the outcome. It was a fantastic story and I totally recommend it.