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.