Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Picture Frame by Iain Rob Wright

Blake and his over exuberant son are treasure hunting with a metal detector, when they come across the ancient and dirty picture frame, Ricky is overjoyed at the find/adventure, which is something  but from the moment they find it you can feel the vibe that something is wrong.

The inner dialogue and history of Blake is so akin to my own childhood I was instantly his “friend” and could have been a “fan” – hopefully not a crazed one though; like slasher Heinz who nearly broke his family, broke them to the point of having to move from his lush, millionaire lifestyle funded by his award winning books, to a secluded cottage at Redlake.

Both photo frame and cottage have a history, full of blood, death, demons and gods.

The first death broke my heart and really set the grief up within the family. IRW does well to portray the emotions and general bitter banter that often appears in family dynamics, this serves well to focus the reader in on the story. Furthermore IRW loves his trapped in themes and utilised it well to ratchet up the tension.

The second death was a shock and well-staged to bringing in the cursed frame, I loved the clichés of the Priest, misty glass and splashes of blood.

With alcoholic brothers, rabid foxes, strange accidents, thunder and lightning IRW delivers another fast read thriller that kept me engrossed, unable to put the book down until I had finished. 

The finale is rather sudden and I felt that IRW could have stretched this book out much further, maybe played on the local folk lore more, given some more flashbacks etc.
I always enjoy the British setting and IRW always manages to interject as much of it in to his writing as possible, it’s almost palate cleansing from all the American authors.

 (Spoilers) Niggles: 
How was the metal detector able to “find” the photo frame when it was made of glass and wood?
They can’t use their phones in the house but get internet, surely they could have emailed for help rather than google search!?

Bonus content - Reminiscing by Matt Shaw
Valerie didn’t want a birthday party, but she got one anyway and she got her bestest birthday present, Brian.

Brian currently has a pink Mohawk, but that’s ok it’s his “thing”; he is her life, her love, her Sparkle. 

Something has happened to Valerie but she can’t remember what, she remembers the family cinema trips, loving three cats, even the Taekwondo classes her son takes…… but what can’t she remember? And why is she on the floor.

A sad little story full of love, grief and pain.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Dying Days: Origins 2 by Armand Rosamilia

This chapter of the Dying Days world is about Cheryl and David and how they have prepped, it’s in a pretty awesome way but when the crunch comes not all goes to plan.

As they fight to stay alive and gather those that they love all that planning comes up short, which is a real shame as it was so meticulously done. I loved how AR spelled each element out, an apocalyptic daydreamer’s blue heaven (that’s me btw!)

The main characters are a really lovely couple and AR really breathes life into them. These are people I would like to have as friends, so I could hide in their bunker with them.

As they travel across the country trying to reach their intended destination they come across various people, some are so good natured you know they can’t possibly survive, but I could not help but route for them and then there were the groups of people that were so wrong in so many ways.

The “name dropping” of characters is really clever (hence the name Origins!) but it did make me smirk at the small worldyness of it all.

There are some really heart rending moments, especially early on in the book when the initial horror wave hits and fantasy becomes reality as people are lost and reality bites. The little sub plot stories along the way tie up so many loose ends and also start new stories.

The zombies feature only as a background in this book as the characters and their personal tragedies, heartbreaks and realisations are the real horror story.

The zig zag route that AR takes to tell all these stories means you can dip into any book in the series and not feel left out, the characters all link in to each other as do places and time lines. It’s a fun read with a serious undertone whichever book you choose, however I expect certain characters will become more prominent as AR gets more feedback on them.

Looking forward to no.3 already!!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

French Fries and Flame throwers by Glen Johnson

Totally love the fact that GJ does NOT apologise for being an English author and uses all the correct spellings!

He is the master of short, sharp stories and excels at it in this set. Each of the stories are based around residents in a block of flats, GJ cleverly links them all but you can read each one individually, but I challenge you just to read one and not be drawn into finishing the entire set.

GJ has pulled a master stroke in managing to link every single story to each other, places, times, people, relevant news items.

Really enjoyed all the prologue “chats”

The Insomniac:
Oh dear, poor obese Trevor is so tired keeping up with demand in his chip shop that he makes a fatal error, and then his efforts to make good don’t go as planned.

GJ manages to do the inner dialogue perfectly giving a great “view” of the British chippy on a Friday night with all its bawdy customers and informs us of how Trevor feels about life, family, love and everything really!

Then his desire for late night french fries (chips) occurs, add in a little slip and an incident involving some cling film, mix in some mud and finally a twig!

I did not know whether to laugh or cry at the ending, it was so beautifully thought out and executed, this author just blows me away.

The Taxidermist:
Fred has a disturbingly disgusting desire to start practising on his neighbours cats. Thankfully they decide to not be cooperative.

I despise all animal cruelty, even in fictional stories, it was fairly obvious where this story was going but as I follow this author on FB I note that he too is an animal lover and trusted him with my emotions. I was not disappointed, although the story made me feel glad in one way it still irked my heart.

The horror is slow and painful to endure and made me squirm but ultimately it was the gore that made me cheer.

The Butcher:
GJ does cliché and stereo type so well its wonderfully kitsch!

Anton the Russian has been up to naughty things and tension is high in the preparation room but when Anton is given a promotion he refuses all bloody hell reigns down, how do you say no to a drug baron?

GJ does well to make you like what should be an unlikable man, then feel his pain at his demise, in a rather unique fashion.

The Florist:
Elena is just trying to make her orchids grow,  when it all goes a bit wrong.

GJ pays such attention to detail I could not help but be drawn into the story. The way he interconnects the characters is charmed, having learnt about Jimmy in The Insomniac and the “sister” we now meet her in all her weird glory.  

Elena and her son Jimmy have been busy installing a watering system but she has added a special fertilising ingredient she found in the Sky High shop.

As she gets a good dousing of the newly enhanced misting spray strangeness ensures – riveting reading all the way to the crescendo.

The Lovers:
Nalin and Isaac seem to have a perfect life until something random happens to change things for them.

Having already met the characters I felt like I slipped into their lives unwatched and with the brilliantly researched and factual back history of Nalin’s life I was engrossed, and sad at the world’s history.

During some amazingly erotic love making something awful (and funny) happens and I was left heartbroken at the ending.

The Animal Lover:
Gertrude can’t fit out her apartment door but her animals keep her company.

Whilst I love animals the description of the smell in her flat and what the various animals did was enough to make me gag! Over all her cruelty was far worse than Fred the Taxidermists. The ever so accurate portrayal of obesity was both sickening and fascinating.

As Gertrude teeters on the edge of a heart attack on her trek around her flat to find her inhaler I found myself breath holding and waiting for the inevitable.  Her final demise was very slap stick in what appears to be GJ signature way of killing people off, most amusing.

The Agoraphobic:
Gordon is the building manager with a nice money making side-line involving hidden cameras, so all the goings on are being watched, recorded and broadcast.

It is in fact his best night ever with all his regularly voyeurs logging on to watch the mayhem going on in the building, and the revolting Gordon is just watching it all with £ signs dancing in his eyes.

It was a brilliant way to catch up on what was happening in each flat from another perspective, the time line alone was magnificent in its perfection. In a few sentences GJ summed up the night of horror.

When he gets a knock on the door the person on the other side is not who he expected.

The Foreigner:
GJ launches from one dead body to another, and does it with superb style.

Samira is a covert spy and assassin, but she also has a complex and sad past, however now is the time she must make a quick escape as Gordon’s little internet business has alerted authorities to her.

GJ could easily write thrillers as he clearly has all the knowledge and skill to lead readers down a dark path of intrigue then set them on fire with the truth.

Another amazing little snippet of the bigger story, another sad ending but with that little hint of a giggle.

The Geek:
Poor schoolboy Benedict is often bullied and left alone by his hard working (and playing) mother, but he has been working hard on his school project and he has a dream.

I loved the way GJ interjects all these little comments that just speed you make to other scenes, this would make a brilliant Tarantino style film.

In the epilogue GJ really rounded up the horror and giggles, tying up every loose end and giving an incredible to ride to his readers. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Eyes Deep: A Clandestine Daze novella by Tim Marquitz

When the first few lines include a gross out murder followed by some sort of eyeball eating ritual I could not help but be hooked. But this is no out and out horror novel, more a supernatural, dark urban thriller.

Our main “man” is simply named Z but goes by so many other personas and skins!
After he has consumed said eyeball he is now able to become that person, a doppelganger, this allows him to do his day job of finding a piece of stolen equipment and ascertaining why it was even being built as this seems to be a machine designed to pull energy from another plane/world/dimension, and so the fun begins.

I wasn’t too fussed with Jace the other main character simply because her personality was kept so closed and in the dark, although she clearly has “something” for our main man Z to be so enthralled. I really enjoyed the sexual undercurrent, even if it was all one sided!  Maybe TM will expand her character in the next book, she obviously has a “history” to be the cold, feisty, uber killer that she is.

The pace is edgy and face and I really enjoyed the new world that TM is building done, which is leaked out slowly  as the story progresses, you can’t afford to take your eye of the page for a second or you will miss something. 

There was a great fight scene early on before Z and Jace resort to guns and all the chatter that goes along with that! But there were some very visual shape shifting moments too that really cheered me up.

I found less humour in this novella than what I used to from TM, his other major characters all have a sharp, sarcastic wit to them, Z not so much more of a sad underlying story to him, but then this was an intense story line and apart from the odd one liner there was not much room for humour.

I am really looking forward to seeing how this world/plane/dimension and the characters develop, judging by TMs other “worlds” this should prove to be brilliant!