Saturday, 30 May 2015

Devil's Island by CM Saunders

Davon Rice is an ex-military squaddie, now job hunting back in the real world which is grinding him down; apparently trained killers are surprisingly hard to find jobs for.

When a random pop up appears on his search log for a job looks promising he soon sends off his application, a reply is swift and so begins the process of attaining his “for the moment” dream job.

Soon Davon finds himself transported to Devils Island, a place he cannot find on any map. This is a remote island with a survival unit on site, but for surviving what?

His role is to guard the unit with regular patrols and whilst the building is fully stocked with basic life support it has no real entertainment and the solitude soon becomes paranoia inducing.

The mysterious agent Venke keeps popping up throughout this story and lends a little bit of spook to the whole thing, as if mysterious eyes in the woods and strange shadows on camera are not freaky enough.

Whilst I understood the paranoia element I would have liked CMS to have had more time to build this up, the length of time it took for it all to happen was too fast for my liking, and can you have red emerald eyes??

The ending was original from my perspective as not read anything similar before and I enjoyed the whole concept but feel that this short story could really benefit from some expansion, flashbacks, more background on the island etc. 

Loved the UK setting.

CSM has an exaggerated way of describing things, each element of any “thing” is given his full attention, at first I found this annoying but then realised it actually drew me deep into the story, like being sucked through the pages.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Stuck on You & Other Prime Cuts by Jasper Bark

Loved the forward, what a great story, wish I had been there!

Stuck On You: An awesome story and it just gets better with rereading. Poor Ricardo what a way to wake up, but think it was worse for Consuela.

I was totally gripped from the first paragraph, how could I not be with lines like this; Her body smelled rancid from the vomit with an underlying odour of burnt pork.

So, the basic premise of the story is philandering Ricardo goes on a shopping errand for his poor, but stupid wife. He ends up cheating with some skanky drugs mule, gets struck by lightning on the ass and then a bear shows up to the picnic!

Joined at various parts poor Ricardo tries to make it back to his jeep but must first make it out of the forest, as bad goes to worse the final text conversation is hilarious and heart stopping all at the same time.

There is a great underlying dark humour to this. It’s short and snappy and the writing style is very clean and easy to read, it has a way that just seems to keep you engaged, despite smelling my dinner burning in the background.

As the story is played out in a serious of flash backs, little pieces of the story come to the surface and you are drawn to like then dislike Ricardo as each scenario is completed.

The gore and gross factor are right up there with some pretty hot sex going on in here too.

Taking the Lies: The nonchalant gore is so bold as to be funny but also very puke worthy. Loved it!
A piece of flash fiction about revenge and a urinal, just made me cringe.

The Castigation Crunch: I could not stop giggling at this one, so very clever in its use of language and reference.

An economist arrives in Hell and soon lands the role of reconstructing with some unexpected consequences.

One of the punishments is giving Power Point presentations for eternity.

I’ll Met at Midnight: a strange twisted and intricate tale of lost lovers.

I was totally intrigued by this tale, the writing as always, is fast and in depth with a clever angle that surprises each time.

How the Dark Bleeds: wow! This is definitely my favourite story, again so full of information and back story that I felt like I had read a novel.

Poor Stephanie is in the grip of a delusion and as a reader JB makes it hard to tell what is real or fantasy.

The baseline behind it all with the Blood Witches is amazing.

Mouthful: wahahaha! This is the best animal liberation story EVER.

Fantastically written with just a conversation piece but so much is implied.

Haunting the Past: a man wakes up in a pool of blood, how, why, who… mind boggling and brilliant.

Dead Scalp: an old Wild West tale, with cussing, gore for all flavours, some shameful sex (!), with giggles abound and a real twist in the telling.

A much longer story than the rest, more in line with Stuck On You…..a great way to end.

Loved the Afterword comments and little ditty.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

In Memorandum

At the early part of this week I received some devastating news about an online friend and top ten favourite author having passed away suddenly.

Whilst the emotions are all still very raw I would like to dedicate my blog to her this week, sharing all the links and reviews for her amazing work.

I was so very lucky to have known this amazing lady, her kindness and sense of humour will stay within my heart forever. I am so blessed to have appreciated her writing talent and been able to gush at her about it to her personally; she was always so very gracious to her fans.  

With such kindness in her heart she soon become a good online friend and even though hundreds of miles apart we shared some good conversations and even exchanged biscuits, whisky and jelly babies!

Whilst gone, she will never be forgotten and lives on in so many ways, not least being the amazing sets of (signed) books I have on my shelf.

What a brilliant and generous set of stories all wrapped up in this one book. Such great value for money.

Kat Yares has excelled herself with this collection.

A Child is born:

What a fantastic way to start this book of short stories. Perfection turns to destruction in this tale of a perfect child. So well written I really felt as if I had read a whole novel, I had emotions for the family and even some insight to the “child”. Great final line.

A Matter of will:
Cal is immortal but he has a mentor, Alex, to guide him and he warned about this type of women. Lucy, total perfection and a possible killer. Who will win out? Felt there could have been more to this story, so was a little disappointed for it to end so soon.

Anywhere by here:
Picking up a hitchhiker never seems to be a good idea! But this one comes with a story, are you sure you want to read about it? Because after I had I wished I hadn’t, talk about give you the chills.

Bed Rocks:
New warming rocks for the bed, that’s all his loving wife asked for that morning, his last day on the job before retirement and such pretty ones he found her too.

Another fantastic ending to this story, I was so enamoured with this perfect family that I was horrified at the outcome – great emotion wrangling Ms Yares.

Murder by modem:
Chat rooms apparently are the new singles bars, but with the same desperate people and same predators hunting them.

Totally loved all the build up and the fabulous ending. Another brilliant dust biter!

Country Plumbing:
Poor Myrtle (I love that name!) she has such a useless son, he cant manage to fix one problematic blocked sink, although with her moaning I was surprised he had not stuffed her down the sink hole.

Although I suppose the moral of story is be careful what you DO stuff down there!

Not sure this was supposed to make me giggle but it did 

The Crystal:
Well this story just left me staggered, what is real and what is imagined. I really enjoyed reading it though and was totally engrossed in Dragons and Knights.

Cleanliness is next to….:
I read this story awhile ago and loved it so much although it did make me jump out of bed and clean like a wild thing; Ms Yares has added to and updated and if possible, its even more brilliant.

Maddie hates to clean, one night after a violent storm certain bits of fluff start to appear.

This is has to be my favourite story as it makes me shudder and giggle every time.

Unrecalled Memories:
This story really upset me, it was so tragic but also terrifying. I cant really explain it without giving the story away and therefore spoiling it, but it does have a huge twist which left me feeling stunned at what people hide.

No more, Mama:
If the last story left me feeling stunned this had me feeling a whole host of emotions from the first to last line. Sadness mostly at what people chose to ignore.

However, the over ridding emotion was joy at the outcome. I am glad that Ms Yares wrote this story, its harrowing but it made me feel strong.

That old saying “just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you” really rings home in this little horrific tale of a women terrorised by her fears.

This left me with goosebumps!

Practical Joke:
When the opening line is about a Chicken King taking a bath you have to giggle but that’s not what I was doing by the end of the story. My feet were off the floor by the end and I like furry things!

The Sinkhole:
Poor Tommy he has a life of Do’s and Don’ts. But then he falls down the sinkhole and his life is changed forever.

Short and sharp this left me a bit wide eyed and edgy. Fantastic reading!

Suddenly Sober:
Eeeeek and ooooh! Love how this is related to another story previously told! No spoilers here, brilliant!

The Changelings:
Teenagers or Demons? Hard to tell the difference sometimes; but this little tale should remind you!

The Fan:
It started with Carin getting little notes, stupid ones, nonsensical ones. Then…….

So short you can hold your breath whilst reading, which you will be.

The Tree People:
Oh my, so haunting and sad. A story told of horror, terror and murder.

The Ridge:
Hells Bells I hope this one never comes true!! It made me giggle at the possible source for this story. Wonderfully written, don’t we all dream of murdering our spouses at some point in married life!

A women trying to keep her youth, a man trying to keep his younger wife happy, a new magical face cream, untried, untested – what could go wrong!

The build up is brilliant and finale is expected by still scarymary.

Wishful Thinking:
Poor Mae wants to die, but everyway she can think of would be intentional suicide and whilst she wants out of this life she does not want eternal damnation either. In her dreams she fantasies of far off worlds and exploring them all. Then Zot happens….

I was expecting more from this story but as the book is far from over…..

Miss Amy’s ghost:
Oooh a murder, a bit of intrigue, a haunting and a fabulous little story. Ms Yares at her best.

The Church on the Hill:
A damned town, a damaged township; only Stella knows the truth. Hard to describe without giving the essence of the story away but I really enjoyed the telling and was left a little curious – think this would make a great novella if stretched and filled a little.

Answered Prayer:
Oh my good lordy – be careful what you pray and wish for. What a horrifying ending to a sad little tale.

Eat, Drink & Make:
Big Bertha has several appetites! Whilst I felt the ending coming on this one it was still with a wicked kind of giggle that I enjoyed it! Just beware what you are eating for lunch!

The Truth of Becoming:
Poor John, his life, family and friends wasted and taken by bugs, especially fat little ticks. Or was it?

As he recounts his story to a Dr in the local “nut house” I felt a sort of tension rising, the climax gave me another sinister grin. I love how Ms Yares winds her way into a story and then blasts you out the other side with a differing emotion.

Waiting for Winter:
Knowing how Ms Yares fears snakes I have a feeling this is one of her personal nightmares. It’s a sad and terrifying one on so many levels.

Lost Souls:
Amos has a plan to reunite with his lost love Laura, he just needs Timothy’s help.
What could have been an obvious ending was turned on its head with a little dig of fear in the last line.

Delicate Balance:
Jerry vs Deer. As each attempt to keep them from his garden crop fails his attempts become more and more elaborate and revolting.

The climax was a complete surprise and I loved it!

The Well:
Eaily the longest story in this book. Ms Yares spends her time building the characters and laying down a really believable back history.

Sarah has a problem with her well; she appears to have been housing a rather mean water fairy down there. Strange things that you find down wells apparently!

Threats are made and a sacrifice promised, however Sarah is not sure she can pull it off but in the nick of time she is helped by a very handsome Professor called Jack; but then her son goes missing and crunch time comes for delivering the sacrifice that the water fairy has demanded.

The ending is all very tense and nail biting, what a story to leave until almost last!

I Wait:
Oh! What a way to end the book, with a quick slap to the face basically.

This is a wonderful narrative of what could of happened in the Christ story. Ms Yares is delicate, respectful and clever in her ability to weave all the important aspects of Christ into this fictional story with a twist.

Centered around a young woman's journey and devout belief in her love for both Goddess and Husband she takes us through the possible beginnings of the church and all the characters therein.

The characters are allowed such free will that they can explain away certain aspects and show you the depths of human horror that is just taken for granted, even in this "modern" age.

Little phrases, sayings and "factoids" come in to play as this story unfolds allowing you to share her life; but with such beautiful writing I felt I knew this woman and would be proud to follow her (and Im very much an atheist).

Ms Yares manages to complete the story tying up every little loose end, mostly with a smile, and given insight into some myths and legends at the same time.

I was amazed by this novel and read it in one sitting, I could not wait to find out what happened next.

Ms Yares is able to take facts and blend them into a fictional story so well you are unsure what is real and what is not.

Based on true events, this books gives an alternative reason behind the plots.

As the tale of plotting, intrigue, revenge and abuse between a group of 13 men takes off; the bitterness and destruction is gripping.

The climatic ending was amazing, but as with all good reads leaves you wanting more!
(if you enjoyed Beneath the Tor you will love this... and vice versa!)

What a harrowing start to a story, and beware because it only gets worse. Poor Macie and the women/children of High Gap. This is a bleak life and world that Ms Yares paints, eloquently, but still bleak and horrifying.

As Macie suffers one final beating she crosses over into another "world", here lies some good things, is it heaven or hell though?

What she is used for by the other women sits badly with her, however as hell becomes reality in the village of High Gap, she does appear to be having fun at least with her own focus of retribution.

As vengeance is taken, Macie recovers her health in the cabin with Cooter James who is a complex yet not, man. He has MY perfect life (if only he had some pets!). His kindness almost makes up for the cruelty previously shown to Macie.

Fantastic ending, some good and bad bits, brilliant length to this story, glad it was not a short.

I "love" the American system that states if a religious group or people occupying a private piece of land means that no one in authority wants to get involved despite the horrors that may go on there, not! Ms Yares highlights a sad indictment of modern American society; which is sadly true and not fiction.

These stories range in size but each one has its own flavour and individual full story.

Mrs Yares manages to put such heart, soul and horror into each one you are left wondering why it only took you a lunch time to read each one....

Brilliant writing shows such an openness and honesty of character that when the twist in the tale comes you cant help but wince.

Loved Big Bertha, although her cuisine is not to my taste!

If you want an introduction to the brilliance of this author try this for size!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

X2 by CM Saunders

I have really enjoyed this collection and note that it is number 2, so I will definitely be looking up the first in the series, along with the other novels that CSM has written; I really love the way he writes.

 Little Dead Girl:
Jeff has been seeing a ghost, not the sheet over the head kind or the spooky howling type.

There is a real sense of tongue in cheek in the writing and I love it, however in amongst that humour is the sad, lonely life of Jeff and the haunting little ghostie and her sad tale.

The build up in this story is amazing and the ending so knocked the socks off me, I was not expecting THAT.

 An utterly brilliant way to start a group of short stories.

Is a tiny little antique shop in Portsmouth, run by the Needham family for generations, always just getting by on tourists income but shunned by the locals who have wild rumours and stories of murder and Satanism. However now it is in the hands of the last Needhams, Neil and he is as quiet and introverted as is possible.

Spread across four stories the Curiosities shop is a wonderment of a time gone by and in the small storage area the walls are still painted with the magic rituals used by his Grandfather.

Again the humour is snort out loud in this story but tinged with sadness.  When an old man comes in one day looking for a certain book he gets more of a bargain than he hoped for.

Rosie loves her son Mark and her nightly routine of counting all his drunken paces from front door, to kitchen to bedroom come to an abrupt halt one night.

This tiny little story really gave me the shivers, well played CMS.

The Night Visitor:
Brian won’t hurt you, he just wants to watch you sleep and maybe move a few things around in your house – ok freaked out!

This strange little story just got weirder and freakier. The humour flipping to horror/sadness/gore is clearly a signature of CMS and what a brilliant talent to have, it catches you off guard every time.

Hero of the Day:
Nathan gets his 5mins of fame after diving into a burning house to try and save a baby.

This story gripped me from the start and I rushed through to the end only to be slapped in the face by the author. Fantastically written, no humour here only shock and horror. The last line is the killer blow.

Embracing Solitude:
Rick is finishing up his latest novel and on a whim decides to brave the long drive home to his doting wife, having shut himself up in a caravan for 10 weeks he was ready for some home loving.

The tragic destination was an unusual turn up in this collection so far,  whilst horrific and heartfelt it was not in keeping with the current feel of the book; but still immensely well written.

Treat Night:
Stuarts love for his wife Valerie is almost obsessive, but not just in a young love kind of way, there is an undertone of something more sinister.

A meal out at their favourite restaurant soon turns sour when she goes missing, as Stuart is frantic in trying to find her no-one else apparently is, the ending was sort of half a surprise for me but not unexpected.

Whilst no humour in this story the building terror is easily conveyed from Stuart to the reader as CMS has built such a rounded view of their life.

Handsome Jack:
Rhys and Mark, childhood buddies, are having a drink in a (supposed) haunted pub. Fired up earlier in the night by the Landlord, when something does go bump in the night things start to get a little hairy.

With furniture flying and scratching noises going on what friend wouldn’t run screaming for the door!  The last line is fabulous!

Tiny Little Vampires (flash version):
Lewis was having a bad few days with mosquitoes. CMS does an amazing job of describing the itchy feeling, the resulting skin trauma and that nauseating buzz sound to the point where I was feeling like I needed to swat something.

Not sure I would go as far as Lewis though, yuck. Another totally brilliant short story with a gory ending.

Tito and Jimmy are trying to work out what happened as they look upon a motorcycle accident but also what they are going to do with the pile of mush that was once a human. 

As part of the “freelance” local Brazilian ambulance service they can decide to where to take the body for what price, not to mention for what use!

When something/one starts a tap, tapping in the back of the ambulance poor old Jimmy must have a peek back there.  It seems that “Roadkill” as Tito has christened him belonged to a gang whose motto was “live forever” and he appears to be trying to do so.

The gore is so prolific that it became comedic for me, although I am weird. The exchanges between Tito and Jimmy in their disbelief and solution to this problem were also gigglesome.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

People of the Tower by Billie Sue Mosiman

Firstly, I love, love, LOVE the cover (by Jeffrey Kosh) how spooky is that!

It actually sets the mood for this short story really well. Ketty & Max are on the road travelling to visit her Mum when they decide, well Ketty decides and Max acquises, to the scenic route, however this soon gets them lost.

After two long days traveling and two spooky nights in horrid motels with only dorritos for dinner, nightmares which fuel a lack of sleep, stinky covers and bed bugs, one of their nightmares come true.

Totally loved the ending! what a surprise! and watch out for the frog on the anthill (made me snort!)