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.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Finding Jericho by Dave Jeffery

This is the story of Jon. Owing to the death of his stepfather and his Uncle Ronald's rapidly declining mental health, he and his mother move in with Ronald to look after him. Bullied mercilessly at school because of Ronald - he makes a pact with a group of bullies and accepts a dare for them to leave him alone. One night he decides he has had enough and he rants and raves at Ronald. Ronald goes missing soon after but turns up at the local psychiatric hospital in a near catatonic state. Jon learns the only way to get through to Ronald is through his koala, Jericho, who has been missing for years. Can Jon find Jericho and restore Ronald or is all hope lost?

This was deep, profound and utterly moving. It is one of those books that leaves a piece of itself behind when you have finished reading. It is essentially a rites of passage story, as Jon comes to terms with his Uncle's illness and the effect that has on his life. Because of a supernatural event and a near death experience, he decides to try and help his Uncle by finding his koala, Jericho. The journey this quest took Jon on was a hard one but a satisfying one. I had tears in my eyes at the end. I recommend this totally.

Aristeia:A Little Rebellion by Wayne Basta

This is again the story of Maarkean and Saracasi. This time around, the book is set a few months after the events of the previous story. Tired of being pushed around by the Alliance, a few of the other worlds decide to stage a rebellion and distance themselves from the rule of the Alliance. Before too long however they find themselves in an all out war again.

This was good but I felt not as good as the previous book. The pace had slowed somewhat and it all felt like more of the same. The two books seemed to contain more or less the same plot - wage war on the Alliance, rescue people from jail, lather, rinse, repeat.That being said though, the action was good and there was a little love interest between Saracasi and Asirzi which was a welcome distraction. There was also some happy news too in one of the couples starting a family. All in all it was an enjoyable read but didn't blow my socks off like the previous book. The niggle of the author not putting in paragraph breaks for point of view changes was still there also. I would caveat this recommendation with the proviso that the first books should be read first otherwise alot of this won't make sense.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wasting Stamps by Matt Shaw

This is a short book of letters and emails (and their replies) that Matt sent to various companies after his girlfriend left. Bored and alone, what else could he do?

This was laugh out loud funny. Who knew so much fun could be derived from such a simple occupation! Some of the replies Matt received were funny, some completely irrelevant to his original request and some were thoughtful and kind. (Particularly the one from Buckingham Palace), but all were very very funny. I shall certainly be less reticent about complaining in the future. I do hope Matt compiles another book of these as they are gold, sheer gold.

The Dead Don't Knock by Matt Shaw

This is the story of a man stuck in their house during a zombie invasion. His wife has gone - she went to look for survivors and never came back. We are taken on a journey through his innermost thoughts as he prepares to leave as well. Can he find survivors or is he the only one.

This was great. It's not easy to write a zombie story without any actual zombies in it but Matt has achieved it. It was tautly written - and I really got inside the lead characters head. Then blam! There was a fantastic twist in the ending. A brilliant short by a talented writer.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Aristeia:Revolutionary Right by Wayne Basta

This is the story of Maarkean. during the course of a smuggling job his ship is almost stolen and the Alliance is alerted. His sister and two of the perpetrators are arrested and sent to prison. Determined to break his sister out of prison, he enlists the help of the leader of the gang that tried to steal his ship and some other nefarious types. They succeed in breaking everyone out of the prison and relocating them to other worlds. Now wanted by the Alliance and the person who gave him the smuggling job, he has no option to go underground. During a meeting of Congress it is decided that he should now lead a war against the Alliance. Can he put his principles aside and rise to the occasion?

This is only the second truly sci-fi book I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were well rounded and the different races well described. It was so good in fact I almost felt like I was watching an episode of Star Trek. The pace was good and there was plenty of action, particularly at the end which was especially climactic. I do have one criticism though and that is that when the author switched from different points of view, there was no paragraph break. It made things confusing at times and I had to go back a couple of times just to keep track of which character was which. This was only minor though and I would still encourage sci-fi lovers to give it a go.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Tick by Jerry McKinney

This is the story of Colin. He has lost his wife, is having nightmares and has developed a clock phobia. Slowly over the course of the story his life unravels to the point where he can no longer continue.

This was slightly longer than some of Jerry's stories I have read and it made for a nice change. I felt I really got to know Colin through the course of the story and his slow but sure mental decline. The story was quite sad in a way, but as is usual with Jerry's stories there was a twist. Once that twist was revealed, my feelings changed somewhat! The ending was quite sudden and unexpected, but was brilliant in its shock value.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Killers by Shaun Jeffrey

This is Prosper Snow's second outing and takes place about a year after the events of The Kult. Someone is indiscriminately killing people again and it is up to Prosper to get to the bottom of it. At each murder site he is thwarted and turned away by a government official. It soon becomes obvious that not all is as it seems. A bizarre experiment is taking place and Prosper needs to put a stop to it. To do that he must work from within and that means accepting a job offer from these mysterious people. Enlisting the help of his old friend Wolfe and a cat-burglar, he sets to work.

As a follow-up to The Kult, this was brilliant. It is necessary, however, to have read The Kult as there are many flashbacks and it could become confusing. Despite this though it was another great thriller. Once again it was gritty, graphic and in your face. Prosper came across as more human, having been damaged by what happened the previous year. It was nice to see Wolfe again and he provided the perfect foil for Prosper. The pace was relentless and I was burning up my Kindle to find out what happened next. The last two or three chapters were particularly heart stopping and claustrophobic, and I had to remember to breathe again at the end! A fantastic follow up to The Kult, and I hope this isn't the last we see of Prosper Snow.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey

This is the story of Prosper Snow. A detective in the police force, he is hunting a serial killer called The Oracle. The killer arranges his victims as macabre works of art and to taunt police photographs the victims and places pictures of famous serial killers around the body. When he was younger he used to belong to a group called the Kult, who used to commit vigilante acts on people they felt deserved it. Now one of his friends has resurrected the group and asks them to deal with the man who raped his wife. Only this time he wants them to go further than he has gone before, and frame the Oracle for the deed. Suddenly everything Prosper holds dear is in jeopardy. Can he put the pieces together, whilst keeping the biggest secret of his life before it's too late?

This was a page turner from the get go. It was fast paced and at one point I thought I had it all worked out, then I was taken in a totally different direction. Prosper was great as the slightly flawed detective trying to escape his bullied past. I really empathised with him as he agonised over the choices he had made, and where they would lead him. This was a tense and taut thriller. Be warned, it is not for the faint hearted, it is particularly graphic and gory in places! I am a sucker for a good serial killer thriller and I particularly like one that makes me think and doesn't lead me by the hand. This was just such a book. I totally recommend this for fans of the genre.