Monday, 23 December 2013

Sacrifice Island by Kristin Dearborn

This is the story of Jemma and Alex. Paranormal investigators, they travel to the Phillipines on the basis of a diary Jemma has received,  in search of ghosts on an island called Sacrifice Island. People in the town are none too thrilled to see them and soon they find out why - and what really resides on the Island. It's not what they expect at all...

I loved this. I think it is my new favourite of the year! It was a great story that gripped me from the beginning and didn't let go until it's dramatic conclusion. I loved the characters - Jemma needed a hug, but couldn't get one, Alex loved Jemma so much but couldn't show it and at the centre was Terry and his tragic loss of his wife. The showing of events without telling me appealed to me, I love when I can make up my own picture in my head, it makes a story for me. I also like the fact that the story was based on a local legend, it piqued my interest. A brilliant story all round, oh and did I mention I loved it?!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mirror of the Nameless by Luke Walker

This is the story of Dave. He lives in a world ruled by three gods, three evil gods at that. They play with their subjects and use them as sacrifices on a whim. Dave's daughter has found a mirror that may be the answer to saving their world, or it could make things a whole lot worse. The problem is Ashleigh has gone missing, and it is up to Dave and Ashleigh's boyfriend Tom to find her. And they must do so before they are turned into sacrifices themselves...

I enjoyed this but found it a little bit perplexing. I think that's because I was struggling to keep up with the three gods! I liked the idea, it was original and so much more than just a dystopian story of three evil gods. It was a story of survival, of family loyalty and of hoping against all odds. If you like your gods evil and your stories dystopian then this is for you.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hell Gate by Elizabeth Massie

This is the story of Suzanne, born with the ability to 'see' things about others, she is sent to school far away by her God-fearing mother. Many years later and she has made a new life for herself on Coney Island. She is asked to help solve some particularly gruesome murders by the local police Inspector, having helped his daughter previously. This will set off a chain of events that will lead to a confrontation she could only have imagined in her nightmares.

The first half of this went quite slowly as we established characters and settings in flashback. Once that was out of the way, the story rocketed to its conclusion. The characters were solid, and I believed in Suzanne. The confrontation at the end was quite shocking for me as I had been led down a few different paths before the culprit was revealed. I enjoyed that aspect of the story, I like to be kept guessing, not have things handed to me on a plate. I enjoyed this immensely and hope the author writes more.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Nightmare Man by Alan Ryker

This is the story of Jessie. he hasn't been sleeping too well lately owing to some heavy duty night terrors. when his nightmares start to impact on his son, Jessie seeks help from a psychiatrist who refers him to a sleep study. He goes along to enrol, and they give him a drug to supposedly help with the dreams, that's when things take a turn for the worse...

This is another of those stories that slowly, but surely wiggles its way under your skin and stays there. I have always had a thing about closed cupboard doors at night but now at least I know I am not alone, and this has validated my fears! The pace belted along, and I felt invested in Jessies story. The characters were solid and felt real. I really enjoyed this, although it brought back memories of when I was a child and my nightmares! For a quick read (with the lights on!) to keep you up at night, I recommend this. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tastes of Horror by Matt Shaw

This is a collection of the author's best selling novellas, plus a bonus new short story called The Ward.

I have read all five of these stories before, and I have reviewed them all individually so there isn't much point in me rehashing them here. I will, instead, concentrate on the short, The Ward. This is a story inspired by Matt's recent spell in hospital. It has a very creepy vibe to it, I certainly wouldn't want to stay in this particular hospital. The story leads you down the path that it is all a morphine addled hallucination, but then asks the question 'Or is it?' I do like the way Matt takes every day experiences and puts his horror twist to them. Long may he continue!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Once Upon A Time by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Peter's (from The Peter Chronicles) early years. It charts his life from early on until he is fifteen. Seen through both Peter and his mother's eyes, the story tells of his upbringing and home life.

This was a great way to peek into the early life of a monster. The story really goes a long way to making the reader understand how and why Peter turned out to be the monster he became. Some parts were quite difficult to read, especially as I am a mum myself, but they had to be told in order to get a true sense of the horrors Peter grew up enduring. Again the pace belted along, and the characters felt a bit like old friends (If you can call a psychopath an old friend!) and we all like to get a bit of background on our friends don't we?  Another great addition to The Peter Chronicles.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

All Good Things by Matt Shaw

This is essentially the last in the Peter Chronicles. Peter has come to the conclusion that he doesn't deserve love and has made it his mission to 'save' prostitutes, and 'punish' rinsers and con-artists. That's his plan anyway, but we all know the best laid plans have a habit of going awry....

Sniff, sob, this is the last we will see of Peter. I am sad, but Matt has ensured that Peter's story ends with a bang. The pace as ever was relentless and the cast small. The twist towards the end was quite unexpected but made for interesting reading and added a different view on things. Now I have to come to terms with no more Peter, but Matt was right to end it where he did, and this was a fitting end for a guy like Peter.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Peter by Matt Shaw

This is the continuing story of Peter, first met in Happy Ever After. Peter is trying to live a normal life after the atrocities of the previous books. He has got himself a job and seems to have made a friend there, and also a friend on Facebook. Sadly, not all is as it seems, and the past has a way of catching up to him....

This is another brilliant installment in the Peter Chronicles. Seen entirely through Peter's eyes we are taken on a wild ride as he tries to live a normal life. I enjoyed the non stop pace and the small cast kept the story tight and suspenseful. I love the Peter Chronicles, and this fitted in well to the story of Peter's life. I shall be sad when the Chronicles end, as I feel like Peter is becoming an old friend, albeit a psychotic one!!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

9 Months Book Three by Matt Shaw

This is the final installment in the trilogy. Jessica is still being imprisoned for the length of her pregnancy. The day of delivery is not far off now, and Jessica must summon all her reserves of strength to get through this. Will she get her 'Happy Ever After' or not?...

I was so excited to get stuck into this, as I had gone through all Jessica's ups and downs, and this delivered on all levels. The big reveal at the end was unexpected, and suddenly everything made sense. Matt created a masterpiece, and considering these were written fairly early on his writing career, they have stood up really well against his newer works. I recommend this trilogy for a quick, sharp and taut read.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Revenant Road by Michael Boatman

This is the story of Obidiah Grudge. One minute he is writing successful horror stories, the next he hears of the death of his estranged father. He goes to the funeral and there he meets his father's so-called partner. Soon he learns that a far different path has been chosen for him than the one he is on...

I enjoyed this but not as much as I thought I would. I loved the dark humour, and there were some seriously funny moments, believe me. I just couldn't feel anything for the protagonist. He seemed to spend the entire book griping and moaning and not really getting on with things. There were times when I seriously wanted to slap him! That being said, the story itself was excellent and really good fun. The pace was good, and the ending was brilliant. If you can get past the ever complaining main character, then this is an enjoyable romp.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

9 Months Book Two by Matt Shaw

This is the continuing story of kidnapped, pregnant Jessica. In the last book we found out WHO kidnapped her, now we need to find out WHY. This time around more truths will be revealed, and there are more twists on the road ahead....

In this, the second installment Matt has upped the ante for poor Jessica. The pace was relentless, and I read this in one sitting. The characters were believable, and I really felt for Jessica as she tried to make sense of the horror of her situation. I thought she was incredibly brave and at times surprised me with her tenacity. I thoroughly enjoyed this and was eager to start the last instalment.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Evil Lurking Within by Matt Shaw

This is the story of John. With the help of his friend and cellmate Frank, they conspire to kidnap Tom, in the hopes of a large ransom. It goes from bad to worse almost from the beginning however. This is their story, set over the course of five days. Five days that culminate in a horror that no one could have foreseen....

I enjoyed this as much as I have Matt's other books, even though it was something slightly different for him. As ever, I invested my time in the characters to find a huge unexpected twist at the end. With only a small cast, the story was tightly told, and the tension shone through.  The characters were believable, and the story flowed at a quick pace. The twist at the end was totally unexpected and added an interesting dimension to the story, which could have been just a run of the mill kidnap/ransom thriller. This is an another fine release from Matt Shaw.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Woven in Blood:Sleeper Cells by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of Damien and Cade. Best of friends and both destined to be fodder for long asleep vampires. When Damien's mother embarks on an affair, she has no idea of the long buried secrets she is in danger of unearthing, and Damien and Cades lives take a very different turn to that which was ordained for them. When the vampires awake, the two clans find a very different world from that which they left behind, and a war breaks out. Now nothing will be the same again, for the humans, vampires or anybody.

I must admit, it took me a long time to get into this, and I almost gave up, not because of the writing because that was great. I struggled because it was vampires, and I just don't like vampires. I am really glad I persevered though, because the story took off and I couldn't read it fast enough. The characters were solid and the pace of the book rocketed along. Be warned though, this is the first in a series. Whilst it can be read on it's own, it is intended to be part of a series. That being said, if you like your vampire full of action and blood, with a sprinkling of sexiness, then this is totally for you.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Infestation by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Ethan. On his way to work one day he gets caught up in a traffic jam which he soon finds out is a road block. No one has any answers except that there is rioting in the city, and it is not safe to go there. Fearing for his wife and children, he abandons his car and makes a run for it. On the way he is nearly crushed by a downed airplane, and he runs into a military convoy bound for a safe camp. Unwilling to go with them, they knock him out and take him anyway. At the camp, he meets Fiona, a teacher at his daughters school. Between them they decide to escape and make for Ethan's house to find out what is going on. When they get to his house however, their troubles really begin, and the truth is far more horrific than they could have imagined.....

Despite having a terrible fear of spiders I went into this with both eyes open. The story itself is an expansion of a short story Matt wrote for his Literature-Ly You service. Despite being billed as a spider infestation book, there isn't really much full on spider action (to my relief), Matt decided more to play on the psychological side of things, with the break down of society and the chaos that then ensues. Yes, there are one or two parts that creeped me out but by and large there weren't many 'bad' bits. The story itself was well paced, belting along. The characters were solid, and I wanted to invest my time in them. The ending was typical for a Matt Shaw book, and I was not disappointed. If you are a fan, you will know what I mean, if not, well you will just have to wait and see!!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Hole by William Meikle

This is the story of a small town that suddenly develops sinkholes. A vibration runs through town and the residents develop crippling headaches and nosebleeds and then the holes appear. A small band of people decide to leave town, but they are stopped on the way out by the military. Something is underground, and it is anxious to surface. If it does, the lives of everyone will be in danger. Will anyone survive to tell the tale?

This was truly brilliant. I absolutely loved it. For me it drew similarities to Under the Dome or The Tommyknockers. The pace was relentless, and there were some real 'hide behind your eyes' creepy moments. Some of the characters had flaws in their personality, but they overcame them for the greater good - and that somehow made them more likeable. The ending was explosive, and I almost had a tear in my eye. Willie clearly had a blast writing this, as it comes through in the story loud and clear. I hope there will be more like this, as it was amazing!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Sow by Tim Curran

This is the story of Richard. his wife is pregnant with their first child and life couldn't be any better. Suddenly Richard notices subtle changes in his wife, she is reading books on witches, and her appearance even seems to be changing, turning her into an old hag. Surely he must be imagining it? Now Richard and Holly's lives are about to change forever as she prepares to give birth to something horrific, that will unleash hell on earth...

I loved this, and had enormous fun reading it. From the first page I was hooked and drawn into Richard's paranoia. Tightly wound and carefully played out, this was an example of a great psychological horror novella. There was a little gore, the author more interested on focussing on Richard's quiet descent into madness as his wife changed before his eyes. This kept me on the edge of my seat until the end, and I recommend it for people who like their horror psychological.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Worm by Tim Curran

Pine Street has a problem. After what felt like battering the street, black ooze is now running in the streets. Inside houses toilets are exploding, and drains are gushing forth with the same ooze. Soon the householders will realise though, that the ooze is the least of their problems....

This was terrific fun. Just the right amount of tension and schlocky horror made for a brilliantly written novella. I could imagine this as an old school 80's badly acted horror film - it was that good. The switching of characters between chapters was an interesting idea, as it gave me a chance to 'check in' on them and see what was happening next with each person. The pace was good, I read this mostly in one sitting. If you like overexaggerated fun B-movie style horror, then this will appeal on all levels.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Conjure House by Gary Fry

This is the story of Anthony. When he was younger his brother Simon was kidnapped in a mysterious house called the Conjurer's House. Legend has it that the former owner, Peter Sumas, known as the Conjurer, kidnapped children over a hundred years previously to do horrific experiments on them in an attempt to bend time and space. Many years later and Anthony's parents are murdered and strange things are going on in the village of Deepvale. Now Anthony's son has been kidnapped and it is up to Anthony and his three school friends to face the evil they couldn't confront all those years ago when Simon was kidnapped.

This was one of those 'look over your shoulder' old school type horror stories. Things are seen out of the corner of your eyes, and this is the theme throughout the bulk of the story. Little things are given away but not too much all in one go. The paced flowed well and I was glued to the page eager to find out what was happening. The characters were strong and I felt for Anthony, losing so many members of his family. (How much bad luck can be heaped on one poor chap?) I have always loved haunted house stories and this one was no exception, with the added interest of the idea of the 'God's-eye view' which I knew nothing about before I picked up the book. All in all a good story from a new author to me, and I will be happy to read more from him.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Shiftling by Steven Savile

This is the story of four friends. The carnival is coming to town and they decide to do odd jobs around the village to raise money for tickets. All goes well until they get to 'Old Man Harrisons' house. Suddenly life will never be the same again. Secrets will be hidden and traumas laid bare. Many years later those secrets will be revealed and the truths may be more than anyone can handle.

This read as a rites of passage/coming of age book very much in the vein of IT or Stand by Me. I enjoyed those and I enjoyed this just as much. The twin storylines were a brilliant idea and the convergence at the end made everything make sense. The setting of 1985 was a good one for me as I was a teenager then so I could identify with much of the history of that time. I loved the choices of music at the carnival, some of my favourite bands were played! This is another 5 star release from DarkFuse, may they keep on coming!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Redeemed by Sean Sweeney

This is the story of Duane. Sent to prison for killing a cop in Boston by an unjust judicial system, he comes out 16 and a half years later to a world that will not tolerate his past. He finds himself in a church, and the pastor offers to help him. He changes his identity and moves to a new town. He slowly begins to build up the run down town and makes a promise to one of his workers who is dying, he agrees to raise her son as his own. Harrassed by one of the original arresting officers, they move away and spend the next ten years in peace until Rocco (the son) decides to go to college in Boston. They return to a Boston much changed since Duanes incarceration. With the town under anarchy rule, can they bring peace back to the city or is Boston doomed?

This was a fantastically well written book. I have read many of Sean's books, but not one like this. Here, we see a man totally failed by the justice system, yet he takes a lifeline handed to him and he changes his life totally. He built up a town from nothing and devoted his life to living in a Godly manner. It was a fast paced book, and there were never any 'dry' patches. The characters were solid and believable, and I was compelled to find out what happened to them. Some got spectacular comeuppances and some got.....well I shall leave that up to the reader to decide! Go out and buy this - you won't regret it!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Messages from the Dead by Sandy DeLuca

This is the story of Donna. She is sent to be raised by her grandmother after the murder of her mother and abandonment of her father. Lena is no ordinary grandma however, she holds séances and speaks to the dead, and soon Donna realises she has the same gifts. Fast forward a few years and Donna is now a troubled adult., unhappy in her marriage and searching for more to life. She enrols in an art course at Castell Community College. Castell used to be a children's hospital, and the dead are not resting easy. The have an agenda and they need Donna to realise their plans. Plans that will tear at the fabric of Donna's family and soul and send her to the brink of madness....

This started off nicely, setting the scene and giving hints on what was to come. Then like a rocket it took off. I had intended to read half of it and then go to sleep but I could not put it down. It was equally creepy and scary. Donna was solid as the lead, wondering what was going on and vulnerable in her descent into madness. It was a novella but a lot of action was packed into it and the pace kept going until the exciting end. This story made a pleasant change from the dark gore-fests I have been reading lately! If you like creepy ghost stories, then this is definitely for you.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Love & Zombies by Eric Shapiro

This is the story of Henry and Sam. Sam has persuaded Henry to go to Vegas on a harebrained scheme to go and pick up a 'Day One' zombie that the people who employed them can manipulate for some extreme zombie porn. Somewhere along the line though, things go awry and they find themselves knee deep in the desert in the middle of zombie hell....

I really, really enjoyed this. I am the first to admit that I am not that fond of the zombie genre, as everything seems so samey. This however mad for a refreshing change. The zombies were present, but they were incidental to the story. The action was top notch, and there was the right mix of horror and humour. in fact at times I found myself laughing out loud, with my husband giving me funny looks beside me. All in all, this is a quick and funny read with some great horror elements.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

F9 by Michael McBride

This is the story of Dr Ellis Harding. Present at a spree killing in a library as a student, he decides to change the course of his career and find out what makes mass murderers do what they do. Having spent his entire career on the subject, he finally gets the chance to 'unlock' the secrets in the comatose mind of patient F0. He may soon come to wish he hadn't however.....

This was a fantastic fast paced read that took me gently by the hand to begin with and then sat on me until the earth shattering end. I liked the link to historical events, they made the story have a ring of reality to it. The characters were solid, despite there only being three or four of them. It was a tense, taught thriller even though it was a quick read. I recommend this for people who like to immerse themselves quickly and come out gasping at the end.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The New Flesh by Keith Deininger

This is the story of Jake. He is an ordinary 4th grader, but he is haunted by the memories of a fire he started two years previously and also by a man he sees in his nightmares, a man known only as 'The Melting Man'. Unbeknownst to Jake, the Melting Man has another agenda, a far more horrifying one that will involve jake, his family and his friends. When his nightmares start to bleed into reality, that's when things get a bit strange and start to go horribly wrong for Jake...

I wasn't sure what to make of this to begin with, as it seemed to be taking me in a direction I was unwilling to go - but then it took another turn and I could not put the book down. This was another shortish read that had plenty packed into its short length. Some parts were brutal and some parts scary but the whole was a mind blowing horror that came together in a very interesting climax, that may or may not leave the door open for another. I do hope so as I feel Jake has more stories to tell!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Girls and Monsters by Anne Michaud

This is a collection of novellas with a dark Young Adult theme running through. Each story plays on a childhood fear, and one or two explore the theme of madness as well.

I am not a huge fan of Young Adult books so I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying these short stories. Anthologies have always appealed to me, as you can dip in and out as suits. For me it was an excellent way to take my YA in little bites! I would recommend this to ages of sixteen and over as some of the themes are quite dark and horrific. Indeed one of them, I shall be checking under my bed before I go to sleep for quite some while!!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

House of Rain by Greg F. Gifune

This is the story of Gordon, an elderly Vietnam vet devastated by the loss of his wife - he is both surrounded by and lost in old and crippling memories. After witnessing an attack on a homeless man by three youths, he beings seeing things, and as he begins to think he is going mad, old secrets start to surface, secrets he would rather stayed hidden. What happened that night so many years ago at the club, and what has the incessant rainfall got to do with it?

This started quite quietly, so the ending took me quite by surprise! Gordons character was likeable as the tortured Vietnam vet still trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife. the descriptions of the things he keeps seeing out of the corner of his eye had me looking over my shoulder once or twice! I enjoyed this and recommend it for a quick read one evening.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Housemates by Iain Rob Wright

This is the story of Damien. Given the chance to appear on a reality TV show to win 2 million pounds, he readily agrees in order to help his close friend and work partner, Harry, who is terminally ill. Shrouded in secrecy, he and the other contestants make their way to the house they will be staying in for the next 10 days. Once there, they are introduced to the mysterious 'Landlord', known only by a voice over a loudspeaker. made to do tasks and elimination challenges, it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems and that this is not just a fight for the money but also for their very lives....

This was a gobsmacker from the very outset. Think 'Big Brother' crossed with 'Saw' but on steroids. it was graphic and unrelenting and enthralling. I was hooked from the outset and HAD to keep reading - stuff sleep! Sadly, much to my disappointment sleep won, but I was straight back to it as soon as was humanly possible, devouring every word. Without giving too much away, the characters were all brilliant, an eclectic mix of societies dregs. With some of them, there really was nothing to love, but that made them all the more interesting. The story itself was well paced, and the ending was unexpected. I have read a couple of Iain's books now, and he never fails to disappoint. Read this if you like your horror gutsy and graphic, you won't be sorry.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Genesis Code by Lisa Von Biela

This is the story of Mark. His father-in-law has just died from early onset Alzheimers Disease, and there is a fear his wife, Sheila, may contract the disease as well. With that in mind, he takes a high powered job at OneMarket, an internet based trading company. Renowned for treating their staff like workhorses, all his time is suddenly taken up with work, to the detriment of his home life and marriage. Unbeknownst to him though, he is in the middle of a conspiracy to create an even more productive workforce with the aid of implants to the brain. He and his partner have been chosen for the trials. Then his partner suddenly dies, and he is in a race against time to stop the same thing happening to himself, and bring down the powers that be.

This is the sort of sci-fi techno thriller I usually steer clear of. Coming from DarkFuse though, I was sure it would be more than that, and I wasn't wrong. I was hooked from the first page and nearly wore out my Kindle finger racing to find out what happened next! The good guys were likeable, the bad guys were sinister and creepy. There was a definite undercurrent of 'what if' running through the story and that made it all the more chilling. I understand this is the authors debut novel - well, I think this is a fantastic debut! The technobabble is spot on, but never gets in the way of the story, instead it enhances it, and the pace flows relentlessly. I thoroughly enjoyed this and am eager to read more from this author.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Nightsiders by Gary McMahon

This is the story of Rob and his family. They arrive at their new house after a holiday to find another family has moved in, claiming ownership. The local police sergeant claims it is all above board, but offers to look into it, suggesting they stay in a local hotel in the meantime. From thereon, things start to go horribly wrong for the family, and over the course of one night, the final showdown will reveal things in their true light....

This is quite a disturbing novella, but in a good way. It kept me page turning and glued to the story. Some scenes were quite horrific, and had me wincing, I think they will stay with me for quite a while! The premise is a tried and tested one, paying homage to stories of its kind that have gone before, but the author takes this to a new level of fear and horror. I totally recommend this as I enjoyed it immensely.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Chasing the Silver Goddess - Passions of the Flesh by T. L. Summers

This is the story of Justin. While out one night he stumbles upon a beautiful woman at a bus stop. Suddenly he is chased by four wolflike creatures, they chase him into a wood, and he runs smack into a tree. From thereon everything is a little hazy until he wakes up next to the beautiful woman. Unknown to him, his life has now changed forever...

This is the first offering from a new author on the block, T. L. Summers. It is also the first in what will be a serial of werewolf erotica novellas. In this installment, the story is established, and characters laid down. The storyline is good, and the sex is pretty hot, although not too in your face, it contributes to the story well. All in all,a decent beginning to what promises to be an exciting serial.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Dreaming Field by Ron Savage

This is the story of Jonathon Clayman and Simon Aaron. Having dreamed about each other since they were children, it is not until they are grown men that they become aware of each other in the waking world. Jonathon is now a politician and Simon a highly acclaimed artist. Unbeknownst to them though, their lives have been chosen for a higher purpose. a battle is raging between the Abyss and the Dreaming Field, and they have been chosen to help fight the battle. Will they be able to save themselves in the face of insanity, or is someone pulling their strings too tight?

I enjoyed this but found it a little confusing at the beginning as the different characters and settings were established. There were quite a few different threads of the story going on, and it took me a little while to sort out who was who. Once I had sorted things out in my head though, everything took off, and I couldn't put the book down. The characters were solid, and I cared about them and their lives and what happened to them. Indeed some of the bad guys were REALLY bad! The pace although slow to begin with, soon belted along. The story itself is different and quite dark, but that's what DarkFuse specialise in, and that's why I enjoy reading and reviewing their books!  All in all, a great book with a fantastic ending, that although a tad confusing to begin with, soon levels out to be a great horror that I recommend totally.

Friday, 26 July 2013

A Taste of your Fears (Literature-ly You) by Matt Shaw

This is a collection of 6 of the 'Literature-ly You' service Matt provides to his readers. The stories are personal with the recipient as the main character in a story built around their worst fears, or as in the case of one of these stories, in with another character from Matt's books. 

When I first heard of this service, I wasn't sure I wanted to be put in a book with my worst fears, I know Matt's writing and the way his mind works! But having read a sample selection of what the service provides I am certainly thinking about taking the plunge. I like the way they are tailored specifically to the client and it is a nice gift for someone you know. One or two of the stories, I personally know the recipients so they were more 'real' to me. This is a great example of another talent to add to Matt's already bursting writer's resume!

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Deadly Dog Show by Jerry Last

This is the latest installment in the Roger and Suzanne Bowman Mysteries. This time they are somewhat closer to home though. Roger has been asked to investigate shady goings on at dog shows by the CEO of the AKC (American Kennel Club). They are lent a prizewinning dog, and Bruce gets to step out of his Nanny role and extend his skills as a dog handler. Suddenly, though, they find themselves knee deep in murder, drugs, stalkers and attempted drivebys. Have Roger and Suzanne got too close to the truth? Can they solve the mystery so some sort of normality can resume?

This is the latest of the Roger and Suzanne Mysteries and also the longest. This is necessary though as there is a lot of story and ground to cover. Once again, although it is the latest in the series it does work well as a standalone with no previous knowledge of the books before it, but to get a sense of the characters I would recommend reading them in order. This time the world of Dog Shows is at the forefront. It is an interesting subject, one I am interested in, and so got into the story right away. The pace was unrelenting, and I found myself page turning like a mad woman. The whodunnit aspect was well played out, and I was quite surprised when the culprit was revealed - the mark of a good thriller in my mind. Well done Jerry, another belter! Here's hoping there are more.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Children of No One by Nicole Cushing

This is the story of an underground labyrinth in Nowhere, Indiana. Thomas Krieg has been abducting boys for ten years, and placing them in the labyrinth to try and survive, all in the name of art. Now a sadist wants to see the labyrinth, and Krieg's partner, an insane occultist known only as Mr NoOne thinks it is the perfect opportunity to call forth the grandest of the eldritch deities, The Great Dark Mouth.....

Since I have been reviewing books, there have been one or two that have stayed with me for a while after I have read them. This was one such book. Although not very long, there is much packed into its pages, without seeming to be overloaded. With a tiny cast and sparse locations, it is tight and well written VERY dark novella. The labyrinth itself was dark and claustrophobic, and some parts were difficult to read as they sent chills up my spine. Most of the four or five characters seemed to have a screw loose, and were quite evil in their own ways. That being said, for a debut novella, this shows great talent and I would love to see more by this author.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Dark of the Sun by Maynard Sims

This is the story of Harry Beck. He is happy living a lazy life in the Bahamas. Having lived there all his life with his 2 childhood friends, Alan Lancaster and Jack Dylan. Now grown up, he runs a boat charter for the guests of Alan's hotel. One day when visiting Alan, Alan's wife and daughter are killed in a car bomb. Whilst trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, and trying to locate a missing Alan, Harry stumbles on some information that will change his life forever. Soon all he holds dear to him will be at stake, and he begins to wonder if he ever really knew his friends at all...

This was markedly different from the usual DarkFuse offerings. Having been used to dark fiction from them, this was a suspenseful thriller that kept me glued to every page. It was a fast paced rollercoaster of a ride with many twists and turns until the very end. In fact just when I thought I had everything worked out, at about 96% of the book done, the author took me by the hand and dragged me off in another direction entirely! The ending was explosive and quite unexpected. The characters had depth,  and I enjoyed getting to know them on a personal level. The paragraph structures were great, quick 5 minute chapters that ended in such a way as to keep me page turning to find out what happened next. Hopefully there will be more like this from the author, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sinema 3 - The Troy Consortium by Rod Glenn

This is the third in the Sinema series featuring Hannibal (Han) Whitman. The world thinks he is dead, killed at the hand of one his previous surviving victims. The truth is a somewhat different story, taken in by the 'Troy Consortium' - a sort of guns for hire outfit - he is given a new life and a new identity. But something is rotten in the consortium and it is up to Han to go toe to toe with an even worse psychopath than himself. Soon everything he holds dear is in danger, and to save the day he must go full circle to where it all began....

This was utterly brilliant. Despite the fact that is the third in a series, the story shows no signs of flagging at all. The pace was brutal, grabbing me from the beginning, and hurtling me face first into the explosive climax. This could easily be made into a feature film, maybe with John Woo at the helm! Han is still the flawed hero (or antihero?) but his previous experiences have changed him somewhat, he seems more emotional and introspective now. Once again there was only a small cast but from a small cast came a BIG story. It is essential that one reads the others or else many things in the book won't make sense. I do hope there are more as I feel Han's tale is not quite told yet!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Rags and Bones by Ian Woodhead

This is the story of Cerchester, a town with some very dark secrets. Dave and Phil start off on what should be a great night out. Within hours all hell is unleashed and the townsfolk turn on all non locals. This is a town teetering on the edge of Armageddon and it wont take much to push it over the edge. Nor will it go down quietly....

This was tense and very very gritty. It pulled no punches. Cerchester is most certainly NOT a place to visit! Most of the characters were flawed in some way or another and very difficult to like but their characterization was well rounded. The pace was spot on and never flagged, keeping me up late to see what happened next! This was something of a different offering from Ian and it worked well, I recommend this for an unrelenting horrorfest, just don't ask me to move to Cerchester!

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Plot Bunny by Kristina Jackson

This is a children's story - aimed at 3-7 year olds. It tells of a magical bunny that appears to children to give them ideas and help their imaginations flow in their storytelling.

This is quite simply a gorgeous book. With a lovely storyline and beautiful illustrations, no child could fail to enjoy reading this story. For reading on the Kindle I recommend this be read on the Fire to make the most of the glorious illustrations, likewise I suggest the Nook Colour for the same reason.  Buy this for your child today, they will love you for it and you won't regret it.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

God Particle by Toby Tate

This is the story of 16 year old Chloe. Whilst studying for her exams at MIT, she gets two phone calls that mean life will never be the same again. The first is from her best friend in Geneva telling her she is pregnant. The second, far more serious is her mother telling her her father has gone missing. Her father is an eminent physicist and has discovered something both dangerous and wonderful. Something many people would kill to get their hands on. Suddenly Chloe is launched into an adventure to find her father that will change her life forever....

At first glance I really thought this book would go straight over my head, despite being a YA novella. All the talk of Higgs bosons and Hadron Colliders had me wondering if I had made the right decision. Boy how wrong was I! This was a high octane race across the four corners of the Globe to stop the wrong people getting their hands on this amazing discovery. It was a thrilling ride and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Chloe is not your normal 16 year old heroine. She is smart, and funny and has her head screwed on right. Having read a previous books of Toby's, this was not what I was expecting! It made for a pleasant change and I totally recommend this as a rip roaring YA sci fi thriller!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Stalking You Now by Jeff Strand

This is the story of a man who feels he has been wronged. He sets out to exact revenge on the man he feels ruined his life 25 years previously. It starts off well, but soon it turns into a night he will never forget and things will never be the same again...

This was an unexpected treat. It was dark, and atmospheric but there were moments of surreal humour as well. Some of the situations the protagonist finds himself in when things don't quite go as planned make for quite funny reading. It was a quick read, and a well paced one. The characters were all a bit nuts but that made them all the more engaging. I recommend this one for a dose of deliciously dark humour!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails by Various Authors

This is an anthology of short stories, all with a dark and twisted theme to them. This anthology is to showcase the very best Wild Wolf has to offer but also includes a couple of authors who are not in the Wild Wolf stable.

I love anthologies. You can dip in and out of them at will, whenever you have a quick five minutes, but they are also really hard to review! This was a great introduction to Wild Wolf's principle genre of writing. Each story was deliciously dark, and as ever there were one or two stand outs. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting both new authors and authors I have had the pleasure of reading before. hopefully those not in the stable will be snapped up before too long!

Bitten by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Adam. One night he stops and gives help to a lady in distress on the roadside. It is a decision he soon begins to wish he had never made as his life slowly crumbles around him. For now he finds himself in a battle for his life and his very soul....

This is the start to what will become a trilogy. Matt has once again diversified and shown us he is not afraid to try new genres. This is completely different to his usual style but also still essentially 'Matt-ish'. It was high octane and high paced. From the very start you are drawn into Adam's plight - and unusually for Matt he has allowed the lead character to survive! I cannot wait to see what atrocities are heaped upon Adam in the next two instalments!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Season of the Wolf by Jeffrey J. Mariotte

This is the story of a town called Silver Gap. Silver Gap has developed a wolf problem. Wolves are unheard of in this part of America and it starts with the death of Mike Hackett. Soon the Chief of Police realises they have a serious dilemma on their hands as more and more people are killed. Alex Converse has come into town ostensibly to film an eco-film about trees being killed off by Bark Beetles but he also has other reasons for visiting Silver Gap. Someone is also using the confusion and shock of the wolf attacks to kidnap women and use them for their own twisted agenda. Can Alex find the women and can the wolves be stopped before there is too much bloodshed?

This was a fast paced and well written story. There were three distinct threads that ran through it - the wolves, the missing women and the real reason Alex came to town. These threads all came together in a truly exciting finale. Throughout the second half of the book I was on the edge of my seat as things were moving so fast I didn't want to miss anything! This is the sort of story I could easily see being made into a blockbuster film. There were elements of suspense and supernatural in places and it made for an interesting mix. There were a couple of niggly points but that's all they were - niggles, they weren't enough to put me off or spoil my enjoyment in any way.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Clockwork Dolls by William Meikle

This is the story of what happens when you mess with the Cosmos. Dave doesn't believe in all that New Age mumbo jumbo - he thinks we are all mindless drones going through the motions. That is until one night when he gets exceedingly drunk at a friends party, and asks the Cosmos for a favour. Suddenly he realises he has asked for more than he bargained for and all his friends lives are at risk...

This story managed to creep me out totally, to the extent that I had to stop reading as it was night-time and I was in danger of having nightmares! It was an excellent well rounded short story, the pace was breathless and I found myself getting quite scared while reading. The whole story had that 'what if' type of feel about it. The storyline itself was an interesting one, and there is a lesson in the story too. I recommend this for a quick scary read, but not before bedtime! Darkfuse hits the mark once again!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Lilith by Toby Tate

This is the story of Hunter and Lisa Singleton. They are invited upon the USS Gerald R Ford as part of a media tour. They are shown around the ship and invited to stay aboard for a few days. Unbeknownst to them someone else is aboard, someone not quite human with rather more sinister plans. Something is taking over the crew one by one. Soon Hunter, Lisa and some CIA operatives are in the fight for their lives as they learn that Manhattan, already devastated by a freak hurricane, is now under threat from a nuclear bomb hidden in a back pack somewhere on the island. Can they find the bomb in time or is all life on Manhattan island doomed?

Wow, just wow! This was an absolute roller-coaster! It started off quite slowly as characters were introduced and scenes set. Then about a third of the way through the story just took off and I felt I was running to catch up! It never wavered from the relentless pace until the end. I could quite easily see this being made into a blockbuster film - the characters were solid and believable and the story well rounded and the ending was unexpected and explosive. I totally recommend this, it was enjoyable and climactic.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Unhallowed Ground by Daniel Mills

This is the story of Henry Feathering. He has accepted an invitation to stay at his Uncle's mansion, and on the way there, by a chance encounter on the train he meets the woman destined to be his wife, Clemency and her brother, Justice. They are traveling to the same town to stay with their elderly aunts. Henry falls in love with Clemency and asks her to marry him while on a walk in the grounds of his Uncles estate. His uncle leaves the estate to Henry, but entreats him not to bring his new wife to live there. Henry ignores him and they move in. Soon things begin to go very wrong for the couple, What is wrong with Clemency and how is it connected to a young woman who committed suicide there, Lily Stark?

This was a dark and brooding gothic tale, set in Victorian times. It bore more than a passing nod to the Poe stories of old, and I loved it for that as I am very fond of Edgar Allen Poe. It was quite a sad tale at it's heart, but a gripping one that kept me page turning. the characters were good and solid and the language and style of writing fitted in with the time period. This is a good novella to read curled up with a mug of tea one rainy afternoon, that will appeal to fans of gothic paranormal horror.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi

This is the story of Sam Hatch. One new years eve, he tragically loses his family in a car crash after a party at his best friends house. Devastated and bewildered he embarks on a two year drive across America until he is drawn to a ramshackle house. He buys it with the intention of living there and doing it up. That is until he gets the feeling he is not alone....

This is everything a good haunted house novella should be. It is tight, brooding, very descriptive and atmospheric. The lead character is likeable and you feel his pain and feel sorry for him and his loss, and the fact that his sanity is slipping further away the longer he stays in the house. The story has a small cast, so you know who is who at all times. The pace is pretty relentless, grabbing you at the beginning and not letting go until the end. (I read this in one sitting, it grabbed me so totally!) A great haunted house story and a fine example of the genre.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Long Black Coffin by Tim Curran

This is the story of Johnny Breede. A young man whose life isn't really going anywhere, content to goof around and get drunk and high with his best friend Kurt. That is until Kurt winds up dead, asphyxiated in his father's GTO. That same car that his father killed himself in some years previously. Now an evil has been unleashed and Johnny must piece together the mystery before anyone else dies. A mystery that will involve Kurt's family, the woods, Johnny's boss, some missing children and a malevolent entity connected with the car. Can Johnny solve the puzzle or are more people doomed to die?

This was quite creepy. It was a book that I shall be thinking about for quite some time I think. I enjoyed it very much, this being the second book I have read from this author. The characters were all well-rounded, but not really likeable in the conventional sense. The were all wasters but somehow I was invested in finding out more about them. The paranormal aspect of the story was introduced and handled well. Be warned though, some scenes are quite graphic, both gorily and sexually. Not for the faint hearted! If I have one gripe though, it is the car. Supposedly the focal point of the story, I would have liked more back story to it. This is another fine offering from DarkFuse, and I recommend it for a creepy, stay-with-you ghost story.

Monday, 6 May 2013

An Actors Life by Duncan Whitehead

This is the story of Terry Sparkes. A failed actor, he is reduced to catching glimpses of his hero, Sir Michael Brookes on TV. Tonight he is watching him at the Oscars, hoping he will win the double of best supporting actor, and best actor...

Right off the bat I will admit I find short stories really hard to review, its so difficult to give a quick synopsis without giving away the entire story! That being said, on with the review. This was a lovely quirky little tale. It made a passing nod to Duncan's full length novel, 'The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club', which I have also read and enjoyed. This story had the same offbeat, slightly flawed characters, and the same vein of dark humour running through it. I would recommend this as an excellent introduction to Duncan's work. A nice, light easy read over a cup of coffee.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Lost Son by Matt Shaw

This is the story of Jason and Emily. they move into a new house with their dog Roald. They haven't been there long before strange things start happening in the house and they have the feeling they aren't alone. The house used to be occupied by Aimee and Ian. They moved out after a tragedy befell the family. What is happening in the house and can Jason get to the bottom of the mystery before anymore sadness occurs?

This is something of a different subject matter for Matt to write about. Normally his books are full on, in your face, gory serial killer thrillers. This was a journey into the world of the supernatural. It was well written and I was sniffling quite loudly by the end. The characters were solid, and as this was longer than Matts usual style, they had more of a chance to develop. The pace was blistering and I spent two nights glued to my Kindle not daring to stop lest I miss anything! I thoroughly enjoyed this and recommend it to Matt fans and new readers alike.