Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Racing the Devil: A Jared McKean Mystery - by Jaden Terrell

5 of 5 Stars

OK, so it's not a Horror novel, kill me...no wait, I take that back.  Sue me instead.  At least that way if someone takes me literally, I have nothing to lose.

I picked this up a few months back as a free read from LibraryThing.com.  It's a Mystery novel, not that there's anything wrong with that.  I just prefer Horror and well it does mention the Devil, in the title.

At 246 pages, it was a pretty quick read and an excellent one, at that.  Racing the Devil  introduces the reader to Jared McKean, a Nashville PI and former homicide detective.

At first I was getting a Raymond Chandler vibe from the words on the page, stuff like, "There were a thousand reasons why a woman might come into a bar with bruises on her cheeks and tears in her eyes.  Not all of them involved some jerk with a sour temper and heavy fists."  and later when Jared and the lady find a motel, "Nothing classy about it, but that was just as well.  Class would have been wasted on us."

But that film noir feel ended as soon as our hero discovered he's been framed for murder.   By the way, that should be "Framed" with a capital 'F".  He was Framed so hard, he might have believed himself guilty, if he didn't know better.

Just a quick aside, having grown up in The Church of the Nazarene, I got a big kick out of Jared's comment, "Dancing is a sexually stimulating activity.  At least that's what they told us Nazarenes."  As a matter of fact, I think that's a direct quote from the church's manual when I was a teenager in the 60's.

The author, Jaden Terrell, does a really nice job with his characters.  They all are embued with a touch of authenticity.  I was particularly fond Jared's relationship with his, soon to be, 8 year old son, Paulie, who has Downs Syndrome.

Racing the Devil, is a murder mystery where we are pretty sure who didn't do it, even though the police are nearly certain he did and Jared McKean needs to solve the case to save his ass.

I'd definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys the occasional murder mystery.  Racing the Devl  is available in a wide variety of  formats from The Permanent Press and look for the next Jared McKean Mystery A Cup Full of Midnight coming in September.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

joe & me - by David Moody - This Is Horror Pemium Chapbook series

5 of 5 Stars

joe & me is the first in a new, quarterly series of  premium, signed, chapbooks from the UK website This Is Horror.  The website is a great source of info for  fans of both Horror writing and films and I figured I'd take a chance on a charter subscription and I'm glad I did.  Not only do you get the signed chapbook, but they send you a link for the e-Book, as well.

The initial offering is from the UK's David Moody and although the story of science gone wrong is a familiar one, it was still very satisfying.

Joe's dad, Simon, is a stay at home dad, but his "mom's a brilliant scientist.  She's going to save the world."

There's a strong bond between Joe and his dad, but because she's always working on "saving the world", Joe's relationship with his mom, Gillian, is somewhat strained  It's not that she doesn't love him, but when faced with the choice between potentially saving millions of lives and spending more time with her son, for Gillian, the choice is obvious.  When faced with a similar choice, what will his father decide?

joe & me is certainly a good first effort for this project and I have high hopes for the rest of the series.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Void - by Brett J. Talley - Excellent mashup of SF and Horror

5 of 5 Stars

Brett J. Tally is a name I was not familiar with prior to reading The Void, now he's a writer I won't soon forget.

The Void is a wonderful combination of Science Fiction and Horror that manages to do justice to both genres.

The year is 2159 and interstellar travel has become commonplace, but it's not without a toll on the traveler.  First you need to make your way to the edge of the solar system before going to warp, which actually bends the fabric of space to get you to your destination rather quickly.  The catch is, the travelers cannot enter warp unless they are sleeping.  And with sleep come the dreams.  The dreams are always the same, but different for each dreamer.

In addition to the dreams, there are safety issues to be concerned about.  There are many neuroses associated with  warp travel.  There's Braddock's Syndrome, also called sleep insanity and then there's CNF, Critical Neural Failure, where the traveler goes to sleep and never wakes up.  And yet, interstellar travel seems to be worth the risk.

The Void is filled with real people struggling with real situations (well real situations for a SF story) and was a pleasure to read.  The thing is, that the story, no matter how fantastical, is utterly believable.

The payoff for making the journey with this book is big, just what you would want from a scary Sci-Fi movie, with twists and turns and surprises to keep you guessing, right to the end.

You can purchase your own copy of The Void from JournalStone Publishing, in a variety of formats.  If you purchase in a Hardback or Paperback, you get a free eBook version, as well.  http://journal-store.com/fiction/the-void/

Needless to say, I highly recommend, The Void by Brett J. Talley.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Midnight Theater: Tales of Terror - by Greg Chapman - A solid, but short collection of Horror

5 of 5 Stars

Midnight Theatre is a treat for horror lovers everywhere. 

This collection of 5 shorts begins with Precious Blood.  Father Duncan Malloy is a priest at a small Catholic Church in Ireland and just before closing the doors for the night, he is coerced into the confessional by someone who's been around for a very, very long time. 

From a vampire tale in Ireland to a story of the undead in New Orleans, next up is Relish, which starts with Jerry Thornton "naked, tied up in the the dark, in the middle of nowhere and he didn't know why." 

I thoroughly enjoyed Hell-O-Ween.  There's something about demon children "Trick or Treating" in Hell that just makes me smile. 

There's also Patrick Oswald Edwards, a piece which reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe, might've been the reference to The Pit and the Pendulum, but I was actually thinking of Poe before I even got to that part. 

Chapman finishes strong with a story about time in The Breadth of An Instance.  My favorite or as Greg would say, "favourite", he's Australian after all.

All 5 stories are imbued with strong prose, something he has in common with Canadian Horror writer Rio  Youers.  That's pretty good company.

Going into this collection, I knew that Greg Chapman excelled at the Novella, having given 5 stars to both Torment and The Noctuary.  After reading Midnight Theatre, I am convinced he can write short fiction as well.  I just wish he's get around to writing a full-length novel.  Something I could really get lost in for a few days.

As of the writing of this review, Midnight Theatre, is available for free from Smashwords.  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/41734

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Nightmare Within - by Glen R. Krisch - Strong first novel

4 of 5 Stars

Glen R. Krisch is a strong new voice in the horror genre.  The Nightmare Within was his first book, released in December of 2010., and one I won't soon forget.

Maury Bennet has a gift -- the ability to draw dreams from the mind of the dreamer and bring them into the real world -- a gift he discovered after a fire gutted his family's apartment building, killing seven people and leaving Maury with severe burns over thirty percent of his body.

Now a practicing psychiatrist, Maury is brought into contact with Nolan Gage who is engaged in dream research.  Together they embark on a project to open a museum of dreams to be called Lucidity.  What could possibly go wrong?

One of the things I liked most about this work is the author's skill at taking ideas and situations that seem crazy and making them believable, something Krisch seems to do with ease.  His characters are rich and diverse in nature...and expendable.  More than once, someone you would expect to see at the end of the book, doesn't quite make it.

The Nightmare Within is imaginative, compelling and original.  A very fine first book and I look forward to more from Glen R. Krisch.  I've already read Where Darkness Dwells, which I can also strongly recommend.

The Nightmare Within is available from Amazon.com and if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can borrow for free from the Kindle Lending Library.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Hungry 2: The Wrath of God - by Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon - Zombie fun

5 of 5 Stars

The wedding dress may be gone, but Sheriff Penny Miller is back.  If you don't get the reference, then you haven't read The Hungry, a situation you truly ought to rectify ASAP.

When last we saw Sheriff Penny Miller, she and a band of misfits had managed to get away from the Crystal Palace, the Top Secret base that was birthplace of the zombie apocalypse.  Now, the military wants them to return, in an effort to retrieve vital information.  Information that may lead to a cure or, in the wrong hands, could make things a whole lot worse.

Penny doesn't want to do it, but when the Government lays a whole lotta money on the table and when everyone else opts in, somebody's gotta go to try and keep them all from all from becoming Zombie chow.

To make matters worse, for Penny and her crew, they are burdened with a team of top notch military types, led by Major Francine Hanratty--dubbed Rat by her peers.  They've been pulled from the middle of a firefight halfway around the world and for what?  Zombies?  They aren't too happy, either.

No time is wasted getting into the action in The Hungry 2: The Wrath of God.    I love the way the writers, Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon give the characters fun dialog, "dead as a Kardashian New Year's resolution come February" and "If brains were leather you wouldn't have enough to saddle a June bug." being fine examples.

There are more than a few delicious twists to keep you guessing, including what's up with "The WrATh of GoD!" they keep seeing written on walls here and there.

True, if you only ready literary masterpieces, this might not be for you, but if you read for fun and if you're looking for a great summer read for that weekend at the beach, the lake, your cabin in the woods or even curled up on the sofa in your air-conditioned living room.  This is the one, especially if you have a hankerin' for some Zombies.

Considering I've noticed where the books are now being tagged as The Sheriff Penny Miller Series I wouldn't be surprised to see The Hungry 3 somewhere down the line.

The Hungry 2: The Wrath of God is available for pre-order from Apple iBookstore on iTunes. http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-hungry-2/id531603829?mt=11

On July 6, 2012, The Hungry 2: The Wrath of God will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, and from your local and online bookstores throughout North America and Europe, and Australia.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Where Darkness Dwells - by Glen R. Krisch - Good, but not quite great

4 of 5 Stars

Glen R. Krisch is a new writer to me and I'm very glad I read this, his second novel.

The setting is the small mining town of Coal Hollow, along the Illinois River.   It's July, 1934, the mine long abondoned.  George Banyon and Jimmy Fowler are best of friends off on an adventure, in the middle of the night, to search for  a two hundred pound  albino catfish trolling a vast underground lake.

They never find the catfish, but what they do discover leaves them running for their very lives.

There are strange things going on in Coal Hollow.  Why would men crawl out of a hole in Betty Mae's basement?  Why would her father leave through that same hole willingly and why would his name appear on a tombstone, in the family plot, the next morning?

For me the story seemed a bit unwieldy. There's the story of lost innocence, a man running from his past, an alcoholic father, a ghost story, a tale of the Underground Railroad and so many others, all interwoven with a place where the dying go, but do not die and the lengths these "people" will go to to keep their secret.

Despite it's shortcomings, Where Darkness Dwells, does have a lot going for it.  It's one of those stories where no-one is safe (love those).  There's the originality of the tale, an underground society living in an environment where you never age and are magically healed.  If you go above ground you face rapid deterioration.  And having to kill to keep your secret.

There's also a potluck at Jane Fowler's place that was very well written, like a beutiful piece of Americana.
Overall a wonderful read that I highly recommend.  Enjoy.

Available from Amazon.com for the Kindle and for free from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library for those with Amazon Prime.