Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Iain Rob Wright & JA Konrath join forces - but before you read that! read these!!

Basically a story of a demon, named Bub, who the American government have decided to experiment on. They house him in an uber secret facility, feed him only sheep, expect answers to ALL of mankinds questions and wonder why he gets pissed off,  tries to escape and hatch his master plan to obliterate humanity. 

Great blend of weird but damaged characters, which is my first niggle because if “you” seriously had this terrifying secret you needed to keep would you allow that calibre of person to be responsible for it? With no other military presence?
But then I guess there would be no real failure in procedure and the story would be pretty boring!

I enjoyed the relationships between all of them but really found the holies annoying with their religious double speak although you could feel the depth of research that JAK had done within the language element and the biology as it just oozes off the page. However the biblical pondering goes on way too long and I found myself skipping some of the genome waffle as it did not really enhance the story at all, IMO.

One of the main characters is a linguist; however as soon as he walks into the room with Bub, the demon decides to speak English! Kind of negates his need to be there really and think he could have been expanded much further in reading of the casket etc I feel that JAK  merely skimmed the surface of what could have been a very in depth and complex story line. 

The Vet gets on my nerves a little, why is she measuring the sheep? and how did she decide that they fulfil his dietary requirements? 

Another brilliant description yet niggle was the “facility” it was so huge yet had no staff; who did the maintenance? When they dropped off food who did the unloading? What about humans needing sunlight to live? And could they not have had a hydroponics unit for fresh food?

Humour is one of JAK trademarks but im not sure he meant Bub to be quite so “cute” – I did not really find him terrifying so was nose wrinkling when I read the “reactions” of the team when they first meet him, or maybe I just read too much horror. 

I wish JAK had expanded on his history a little more, maybe played with Bubs inner dialogue more. Don’t get me wrong he is no huggable, fluffy demon, he has his gorefest moments but felt there could have been more. 

Other reviews have suggested that this is a “popcorn” book and I would be disappointed to know that his how JAK intended it, as the basic concept is pretty awesome and possibly could have been executed a bit better with a longer novel.  It does have some interesting arguments about the beginnings of humanity and our need for religion and where all the legends stem from.

The windup to escape is pretty tense as no character is safe, which is always good in a novel, although how you can put up with that much physical injury and still climb a ladder amazes me, but sometimes you need to suspend belief. 

My final niggle is the internal bombs, why does Bub just not dig them out sooner? I dislike when authors just suddenly blag a bit or change a basic function of a character to help them out of a jammy bit of storyline; that’s so Hollywood. 

Overall I really loved this book, the ending is pretty awesome and I look forward to a sequel. This would make a great film, as the action is all very visual and the time line is pretty straight, with maybe a few flashbacks.

I LOVED the "Britishness" of the whole thing, the pub setting, the humour,   although I was a bit dismayed to find the Americanisms in the dialogue.

IRW has done some brilliant character links here with his other books; its his own scary little world.  I really enjoyed the almost cliché characters, they are so condensed you can see a little of someone you know in each one. I had a real fondness for some of them towards the end but was pleased to see that no one safe.

This was a very easy to read yet hard to put down book, I read this in 2 sittings. This was the first book I ever picked up from IRW and I have to say he his now a firm favourite.

I have reread this book now, I think its going to be one of those that you go back to as an old favourite. The second reading allowed me to pick up on the little nuances that I missed in the first reading, very clever! If you have any doubts how complex this book is then have a read of this "a look at the Final Winter".

I thought the ending could have had many alternatives, and personally I would have liked to have had all the characters endings "wrapped up", I just wanted to see some people get their karma balanced!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

DEAD: Spring by T.W. Brown

Straight back into the action, which if you are reading back to back makes for spectacular flow, but if waiting (months!) desperately for each installment then you can get a little bamboozled with how intense the jump back in is.

Some clever references that made me smirk!

Cats that eat zombies? What do zombie/horror authors have against cats?? 

I felt some real sadness for certain characters, especially Emily-zombie but caught myself frowning at certain things she did, they felt just a little too contrived for my liking. However, I am intrigued to see where TWB is going to take this particular story line, especially as all the groups are noticing the same issues.

Love the fact that Billy has a much stronger voice and is not living in anyones shadow anymore. This book has a big chunk dedicated to his, and his traveling groups, story; which is great as it allows you to really get to know all the new characters.

Had to laugh at the British group and Vix wanting a word with the zombie writers for getting stuff wrong whilst in the midst of battle. Credit to TWB for getting the locations so spot on and a special pat on the back for the colloquialism achievement!

I did get a little bogged down with Cynthia’s story but her life/animal views really gave me a reason to love her and then I found myself routing for her.

Now on to the moans and niggles: New characters generally – so many of them and to each group! This got a bit confusing for me.

Why are there so many beefy characters in these apocalypse stories, TWB is by no means unique in his characters that are huge in stature, full of muscle etc but how is this still possible? How are they finding enough food to maintain this bulk??

Also Kevin seems to have grown back his frost bitten foot as he can now run with no limp impediment despite obviously losing his prosthetic one when being (spoiler alert!) captured and fleeing for his life.

Not happy that so many animals are getting killed, humans you can blast to where ever, but please leave the furries alone L
What has happened to the Egypt group?

Ok, back to good stuff!

I am really looking forward to the next installment and what happens in this next phase, I think one all the completed books are out (I believe 12) I will treat myself to a full read through of all of them or maybe read all the separate stories.

This chapter ties up a few loose ends but also leaves the groups on positive notes which I think was needed as not all the people left in the Zompoc can be horrific all day every day? Scheming and slaughtering must get boring after a while and human nature says we want to be loved and need comfort; don’t even the nastiest of characters love somebody?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Dreams of Thanatos by William Cook

Firstly I noticed the beautiful cover art and then noted at the back in the blurb that William Cook designs his own, and others, covers – what talent.

I was only going to read one story in this book to see if I would be interested or not, hahaha yeah right! I came out of my Kindle many hours later a little staggered and wide eyed.

How have I overlooked this fabulous author for so long? I have read a few of his books but this collection of shorts is intense and shows off his erudite flow and use of words perfectly.

So, on with the stories in this book.

The Reader: my first thought when finishing the final sentence was WTF! This was so brilliant and intense, I was not sure whether to “shut” the book or carry on!

A man gets hooked on reading after the birth of his daughter, what a wonderful thing you may imagine, until it absorbs him in the most hideous way.

Delightfully gore laden WC captures that feeling that US avid readers get when we find a new story or author to indulge ourselves with, only he ratchets up the “forgot to eat dinner” scenario and then bangs you over the head with it!

Kaleidoscope Kid: I have always wondered if human monsters are nurture or nature? This poor chap seems to be part of that question, with such a sad start, middle and end to his life.

I almost wanted visions of my own for the wonderful little critters that visit and chat with him, almost.

I was so glad that Pa got his justice but eeeew what a way to go! Intrigued? You should be! The stories seem to only be getting better in this collection.

What a Man wants: This little show stopping story is much more the clipped, yet deep style I expect from WC (having read his other novels).

A harsh life is described and just as I started to feel sorry for the poor sap he twists his tail (no miss spell!).

Fantastic ending to an icky story.

Blinded by the Light: Quite possible the most sickening first line I think I have ever read, made my stomach knot and retch.

It does not get any better or it becomes more brilliant depending on how you like your grotesque!

Amazing in all its disgusting glory, yet still so full of story.

The Night Terror:  Much more flowery and esthetic in its prose this story begins to soothe the thus far shocked and tattered mind that is mine, but I cannot stop reading.

Don’t be fooled though, the initial calm relaxes you into a stupor of rhythm before WC tosses you into the pit of hell fire once more.

Legacy; The Eternal Now and Hereafter:  It is kind of scary that these two loons thinking up a declaration of independence and freedom for all using pipe bombs and destruction actually made sense, such is the power of the authors writing skill.

This story lurches from weird to horrific and then onto freaky. By far the longest story in this collection I think “enjoy” would be the wrong word but I was totally engrossed.

Til Death Do Us Part: Hugo does not take his wife’s request for a divorce too well.

This has to be my favourite story for all the mental visuals of gore, even had some smell and touch in there too I think.

Almost tongue in cheek complete with fumbling surgeon, shotguns and clueless cops.  This story alone is worth the cost of the collection.

Dead Memories: WC manages to write about love lost in such a beautiful way that you almost don’t notice the dull edge of pain as he then rips your heart out.

As the nightmare hauntings intensify I was not sure of the history but was too wrapped in the destination to care.

The Devil Inside: Poor young Jacob what an awful life he has, but is seems he has an avenger, and they live under his bed.

The Beast has finally matured and is hungry…..

A tale of revenge that left me smiling.

Creeper: The poor crow or creeper bird gets blamed for all the bad things that befall this stuck up idiot! Short and with no obvious outcome this was a snippet of a moment, but wonderfully written.

Conceived by Death: If you want well placed gore and stomach churning horror, this is the read for you; from drug use, murdering of mums and babies to the birth of something unknown WC wraps all of that horror into a great story with a purpose and not just for the sake of more gore of puke factor.

Burnt Offerings: WC does tales of abusive revenge like no other. He is able to portray the pain so that any wrong doings done to the perpetrators don’t feel at all excessive and possibly deserve one ounce more.

Short but not sweet a strong female lead this time.

Pretty Boy: Another bucket load of eeeeew!

Jasper is on the prowl for more fresh flesh to rape and kill when the local police stop him and give out their own brand of unique justice.

I would really like to read the extended version of this! (hint hint)

Aspects of Infinity: Really disliked this story as it was far too abstract in writing style for me to connect with and I was getting bored with my own struggle to keep up.

Am glad this was near the end as not sure I would have continued with the book had it been first.

Just not MY thing, but probably somebodies.

Dead and Buried: Poor Donny and Max. This felt like a really “nice” ending to the whole book, full of possible hope as well as the spine chilling horror, not the usual WC gore and rub your face in it, this was much more subtle and ultimately more intrusive.

Really enjoyed this book of revenge with some strong drinking, smoking, drug and abuse themes going on. I’m sure a shrink would have a field day with WC brain – maybe he should visit Hannibal! That would be a certain match. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Jane the Hippie Vampire: Love Beads by Leigh M. Lane

Jane is the strangest vampire I have come across in a long while.

One sunny afternoon she meets Randy and his weird dogs, strange job and horrific food sense.

LML treated me to a brilliant piece of mystery thriller writing with a super natural element, with just enough grossness to add a horror element.
She hints this will be a series and I do hope so.

Some fabulous in depth and textured descriptions allow you to become immersed in the story I was totally engrossed in this novella and was sad when it ended.

Jane is an intriguing character and I so want to know more about how she became what she is and what her forward plan is.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Skulls & Bones by Armand Rosamilia

This is a collection of short stories from Armand Rosamilia, he of the Dying Days and (my fav) Miami Spy Games books.

 A brilliant introduction into how this author writes, he has great character development and manages to lead you in and then freak you out during only a few lines of story.

Memorial Site: a tale of loss and how a child, adult and society cope. It’s all very sad but also exceptionally creepy. The ending whilst predictable, there really was only one way to end this, still made me shudder.
Vacation’s End: John and Rebecca appear to be on the road trip from Hell. Until Goblin in all his naughty glory turns up. He has murderous intent and is chock full of ideas on how to do it!  Clever writing from AR as I did not see the ending coming.

Stairs to the Ocean: Ray has become obsessed with building his staircase to the ocean much to the horror of his wife Bethany. What and why soon becomes evident during the next thunder storm. A spooky tale with a terrifying ending, very cliff edge! (yes, my attempt at a pun!)

1920 Gallery Card #4:  A twisted tale of revenge and a haunted baseball card. Very believable characters that you can’t help by feel for not matter their part in the story, all appear to be victims. Again AR is a master at character development.

Beastie:  A short, sharp tale of animal revenge. Amusing in its telling AR does well with only a few lines to capture what has been going on to warrant the ending!

Crow Mill Bridge: Another short one but that does not stop the spooky chill, lovely description of a not so lovely monster.

Rainforest of Bones: Deep in the Brazilian jungle a madman is building an army, but from what or who! The equally bonkers reporter is captured and forced to tell the world of his plan, he clearly does a poor job but I was intrigued by his background which is not so humbly told! Fascinating and left on another cliff edge. (I did need climbing rope at the end of this book!)

Latin American Death Cap: The intrepid, globetrotting reporter again, who is becoming more endearing. Mushrooms OMG just mushrooms!! This left me wide eyed… congrats on that one Mr AR.

The Devil and the Cenote: The finale and the reporter with no name makes another brilliant appearance. A sacrifice must be made. I so want more of this story – begging for this to be expanded!

Loved the little exposure bits at the end but always feel these should be at the  start or end of each chapter to lead you in or finish you off!

Amazing chunk of bonus content at the end, in case you are unsure of just how much you are going to love this author.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Exit Wounds: Demon Squad by Tim Marquitz

We are thrust straight back into the story line and TM does an amazing job of intertwining new information with old to bring you back up to speed since the last DS novel (which was far too long ago may I point out).

Frank and his gang are on the run in a strange land, hiding from monsters they are unsure of as Scarlett is in between worlds trying to find her God so she can die and be away from the pain – but others have plans for her.

TM deftly switches between Frank and Scarlett PoVs – managing to bring me, the reader, deep into each very distinct world and personality.

An engrossing read I read this in one long, long sitting as I was pulled too deep into the story to leave it. Emerging 7hrs later very hungry but…. very satisfied. A small tease at the end of this book but lots of questions are answered, but am still longing for the next instalment.

Whilst you may be reading about monsters, demons and gore with lots of splatter and treachery you cannot ignore the amazing word play and seemingly limitless vocabulary that TM has.

Frank “Trigg” Triggaltheron is still an asshole that I love to hate, whatever body he is currently stuffed in. Chatterbox won my heart long ago and still manages, despite the dead rot and maggots, to hum, sing or mumble some great tunes and come out with some fantastic one liners.

Scartlett is a true to her heart heroine, whatever she believes in you cannot fault her for her dedication and she never resorts to using her beauty unlike some of the scheming bitches in this series. Her first person PoV thread that runs throughout the book works perfectly IMO to build the tension and give a different feeling to the book.

I really enjoyed the phoenix element of rebirth to certain critters!

If you have not read the previous 6 books in this amazing series then I suggest you do so, especially as they are on offer currently.

Whilst I still find the first in the series a little “raw” in its writing style you cannot miss the underlying skill of TM and this makes for fascinating reading as you literally see his amazing writing talent grow and shift throughout the series to what book number seven is.

The cover work is always spectacular and draws you in whilst giving a glimpse and guidance as to what Trigg looks like, always in love with Chatterbox I look forward to more artwork with him as the focus (sort of!).  I would really like to see the other characters more deeply portrayed in both cover work and writing, I really want to know some back history now, how DRAC was set up? How Katon etc came to be how they are, some spin off novellas perhaps?

I can’t wait to see where TM is going to take this series next! 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Dystance: Winter's Rising by Mark Tufo

Born and raised in some dire conditions love and friendship still flourish enough to give hope in this new dystopian world that MT has dreamed up.

Born and bred to fight and die in a war that has been ongoing for as long as their clan can remember friends Winter, Cedar & Tallow, are given a life line after a huge discovery and some revolutionary acts.

Winter is the prime hero in this story and she is indulged with two love interests, although I found her confusion, deep feelings and then switchero a little shallow I must remember she is a mere 17yrs old,  MT gives her calm and wisdom beyond her young years. Cedar is thankfully the comedic scene stealer.

Cedar manages to fall in love several times with various kilt wearing gents via her new found love of reading romance, always seems to pop up from behind some rock to over hear a private conversation and generally bringing some humour to a harrowing situation/setting.

Thrown into this seemingly endless and selfish war machine, the trio struggle to survive the onslaught, barely equipped, under nourished and most definitely not trained to fight.

As the various clans in the war spar and try to gain ground or make alliances it is Winter who shines, discovering a unique talent and is shown her true destiny.
But can she live long enough to fulfil it?
I enjoyed the lack of guns and the epic sword fighting scenes.

The treachery, deceit and double crossing is amazing and I can’t wait to get my paws on the next instalment.

Another element to bring the Talbot clan into another universe, that little bugger gets around. Even the epilogue is filled with Talbotisms!

*Spoiler alert*

How I loved reading about Trip again!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Savage by Iain Rob Wright

Anna (from Ravage) has escaped with Rene and they are now “safe” on a pier. Their journey from there to here is never fully explained which is a shame as they have both clearly become changed characters and also have a bond between them.

Garfield, is the new enigmatic wanderer who forages for supplies but has found his salvation in Poppy a child with an awful past.

Throw in a few other misfit characters and I wondered how they survived the first few days of the apocalypse let alone a few weeks/months and you have the new community.  Not forgetting the poor “fish man” who comes late to the party and is a very sad moment all around.

On the horizon is the Kirkland ship with Samuel (from Sam) as captain and Damian/Roman (Housemates & The Final Winter) as the reinvented good vs bad character, but he still holds a great love for Harry (Final Winter).

A bit repetitive and the PoVs were a bit off occasionally in my opinion.

Damien seemed to swing between personas with no real moral compass which was really irritating as thought he found himself in Housemates.

Not one of my favourite IRW  books which is a real shame as he is tying up all the loose ends of his characters, even the Sea-Sick novel only makes a very brief, albeit, clever appearance.

I got a bit annoyed at the army break in situation, what was with all the hidden weapons, surely they would have been frisked by trained army men!!

Many of the random/odd characters felt like filler or fodder for me with some very cliché moments.

There are some very sad and dramatic deaths.  The occasional humour moments were really laugh out loud and unexpected.

If IRWs intention was to wrap up this set of characters he sort of did but I felt there is more to this story and really wanted a definitive ending.

All that negative stuff said, it was a gripping read and as always IRW treats you to complex story lines that demand your attention, the gore is plenty and the plot is hard hitting.