Saturday, June 16, 2018

Review: Husk - by Rachael Autumn Seering

5 of 5 Stars

About two years ago, I met Rachel Autumn Deering at a Horrible Saturday event at the York Emporium used book store.  I picked this up at the time and it kinda got buried on my ever-growing TBR pile and just never got read.  Today, I finally corrected that error.

This novella is one of the most compelling and heartbreaking things I've read in recent memory.

Husk is some damn fine writing.  The kind that gets under your skin, makes you think, makes you downright angry.  Just because our servicemen and women come home doesn't mean the battles have ended.  For many, they have just begun...

"They got me seeing a doctor down to the VA hospital every few weeks.  Poking and prodding and asking me all kinds of questions a man hopes nobody would ever ask him.  Keeping me doped up and all, trying to put me back together, I guess.  I got a pill to help me sleep, one to perk me up, one to calm my nerves, and one to make sure I don't just fly plumb off the handle."

A tragic tale that left me reeling.

Strongly recommended.

Husk is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Rachel Autumn Deering is an Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated writer, editor, and book designer from the hills of Appalachia.  Her debut prose novella, Husk, was published in 2016 and drew praise from critics and fellow writers alike. Her upcoming novel, Wytchwood Hollow, is set for publication in 2018.


Review: Bones: A collection of monsters - by Andrew Cull

4 of 5 Stars     Review Copy

A solid collection of longer short stories and a bonus short-short make up this novella-length collection from Australian writer-director Andrew Cull.

Did You Forget About Me? - Cam Miller is a struggling actor and at age thirty he has yet to make his mark.  When his long-estranged father dies and leaves Cam his childhood home he contacts his sister and makes plans to visit the property.  The trip brings back unpleasant memories and more.  Cull makes effective use of his filmmaker's eye for detail. Although this is only a short story, Did You Forget About Me? had something that's been missing in a lot of books I've been reading recently and that's "atmosphere."

Hope and Walker - This is a charming story with a touch of horror. The opening lines, "We were both 10. But he was dead.  And I sat drawing him", immediately drew me in, so important with a short story.  This is one exceptional short story.  Highly recommended.

The Trade - Another really strong opening line begins this story of something from the woods leaving dead things for a troubled family. "I was seven and that was the Summer death stalked our home."  This tale features a slow build with a killer ending.

Knock and You Will See Me - I can't stress enough how a strong opening line can make a short story.  Here's another one.  "We buried Dad in the Winter.  It wasn't until the Spring that we heard from him again."  This is one creepy story.

The Rambling Man - A wonderfully gruesome short to wrap up this collection.

Recommended.

Bones is available in both paperback and for the Kindle.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Andre Cull is a writer and director of The Dark and The Possession Of David O'Reilly (UK title: The Torment). His first novel, Remains, is due for release later this year.

Review: The Nightmare Room (The Messy Man Series Book 1) - by Chris Sorensen

4 of 5 stars     Review copy

At it's heart, The Nightmare Room (The Messy Man Series Book 1) is a ghost story and a very good one to boot.

Here's a killer opening line for you...

"The boy woke to the sound of his screams."

The back story is that of an abused child, but part of the mystery is the child's identity.

"He hesitated...but why? He'd already made this run two times this week. Both Monday and Thursday, he's awakened screaming, bringing down the Old Man's wrath, and sending him here. To the penalty box. To time out. To the Night—"

Peter and Hannah Larson are moving back to Peter's hometown. With his mother passed and his father moving into a Nursing home, the plan was to take up residence in the family homestead, but when they arrive they find that the property has been pomised to the home to help pay for his father's care. But there is an older property owned by Peter's father.

"...this was every house in every horror movie he'd ever seen."

Peter makes his living reading audio books and after he set's up his sound booth in the basement of the property, the fun begins.

"'I saw something,' he said, laughing maniacally inside because he hadn't seen something, he had seen many many things, each more horrifying than the last. 'Inside, I saw something.'"

Suitably creepy, with plenty of "Oh, WOW!" moments. The author has a knack for chapter cliff-hangers that make you want to start reading the next chapter immediately. I loved the way Sorensen developed and moved his characters through the story. One character, Ellen, a sort of psychic/paranormal investigator was absolutely wonderful as was Peter's childhood friend, Riggs, owner/manager of the local watering hole.

A comfortable if not comforting read. Little touches, universals, make reading this book a pleasure, but at the same time the author is creating a sense of unease.

Although I was a bit thrown by the ending, I'm hoping for some clarification in book 2 of The Messy Man series.

Chris Sorensen is a relatively new author, although he's been telling other's stories as an audio book reader for years now. His own work is well worth reading. I finished reading this book the same week I saw Winchester in the theater. Of the two ghost stories. I much preferred The Nightmare Room (The Messy Man Series - Book 1)

Recommended.

The Nightmare Room (The Messy Man Series  Book 1) is published by Harmful Monkey Press and is available in both papaerback and Kindle formats.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Chris Sorensen spends many days and nights locked away inside his own nightmare room, having narrated over 200 audiobooks (including the award-winning Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix ). He is the recipient of three AudioFile Earphone Awards, and AudioFile singled out his performance of Sent as one of the ‘Best Audiobooks of 2010.’ The Butte Theater and Thin Air Theatre Company of Cripple Creek, Colorado have produced dozens of his plays including Dr. Jekyll’s Medicine Show, Werewolves of Poverty Gulch, and The Vampire of Cripple Creek. He is the author of the middle grade book The Mad Scientists of New Jersey and has written numerous screenplays including Suckerville, Bee Tornado and The Roswell Project.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Slashvivor! - by Stephen Kozeniewski and Stevie Kopas

5 of 5 stars     Review copy

It's 1983.  An accidental nuclear war has left the US with just 1% of its former 234 million residents.  Stephen Kozeniewski and Stevie Kopas have created such a world and have decided to have some fun with it.

Take for example the tagline for the TV ads fo Alino Al's Discount Surplus, "Come on down!  It's not illegal.  In the Geiger Lands, nothing is!"

That is so true and includes what passes for entertainment...

"From the ruins of Vancouver to the Cuban Keys, from the Allied Texas Republic to the Irradiated Plains, welcome back, ladies and gents, to the most popular show on the continent!"

Try Not to Die, where contestants, drawn from the populace at large, are pitted against notorious serial killers, including an evil animatronic Abraham Lincoln.  But when the producers selected Dawn Churchill, they never expected what was to follow.

"We present to you 45,000 square feet of mayhem, terror, and pure entertainment!"

Personally, I found this work to be imaginative with many surprises.  Slashvivor! is horror in the extreme and not for the faint of heart.  Kind of like The Hunger Games on acid.  If you like lots of blood in your horror, I promise this book will not disappoint.

Slashvivor! is available in both paperback and e-book formats from Sinister Grin Press.

Totally recommended.