Thursday, 10 April 2014

Stuck On You by Jasper Bark (a review)

This short novella starts with a bang (well two really) and doesn't really stop till the last page.

Here's the back story, Ricardo is travelling from Arizona to New Mexico to buy artisan gifts for his girlfriend to sell back home. Now, Ricardo is a bit of a ladies man so when he meets Consuela, a young Mexican who needs to get back over the border to America, there is only one way this is going to end. The rub here is that Consuela is smuggling something in her stomach that they have to get to the buyer.

On the journey they flirt until they have no option but to pull up and 'do the deed'. Unfortunately while they do they are struck by lightning, which kills Consuela and leaves Ricardo stuck inside her, as her muscles have contracted in death. Will Ricardo be able to survive long enough to be rescued (and how will he explain This to his girlfriend?). What was Consuela smuggling in her stomach?

This is both an erotic and disturbing little tale, but trust me, it's a bloody good read. Good horror isn't meant to be comfortable and Jasper Bark does a good job of making the reader as uncomfortable as possible.

4.5/5 stars

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Moribund Tales by Erik Hofstatter (a review)

A bit of a mixed bag this one. It's a collection of short stories (9 over about 50 pages).

The collection starts off well with INTERNAL ABDUCTION, a slightly predictable but still enjoyable "body horror" tale. This is followed by LAST STRAW OF HUMANITY, a "creature in the cellar" story that didn't finish as I thought it might.

For me, the best of these stories were TEARS OF REPENTANCE, a historical tale of love and vengeance, and INFANTS FINGERS (more vengeance with added deception). INFANTS FINGERS is the only tale in this book that isn't told in the first person, and, in my opinion, is better for it.

The last two stories, ON THE EDGE OF THE MARSH and AFFECTIONATE CADAVER,  both left me feeling a bit short changed, but not in such a bad way. I just wanted more from the story. "MARSH" had an interesting set up that ended without answering all my questions - the story had real potential and I would very much like to see an expanded version. This felt very much like a sample chapter.

AFFECTIONATE CADAVER, again, could do with being longer. The story is horrible (in a good way - one of those that makes you uncomfortable, as a good horror story should!). And the main character is a truly vile person. A cracking end to the book.

All being said and done, this is a decent little collection of stories at just the right kind of length for a coffee break. I will be looking out for more from this author.

3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Last God Standing by Michael Boatman (review - first published on TerrorTree)

An interesting premise here, and one that works really well. After 2000 years doing “the job he was created to do” God has quit and come to live among humanity. He is now Lando Cooper, living in Chicago and working in his Dad’s Auto supplies shop…….he also aspires the make it as a stand up comedian.

Unfortunately for Lando he is being regularly challenged by God’s from the elder pantheon (think Greek, Roman, Indian God’s and you get the idea) who want to take his place as Supreme Being. On top of all this a murderous new God known only as The Coming is on the horizon and getting closer.

This novel has a lot going for it. The idea on it’s own is a good one – God lives among us (as do other God’s and even Lucifer) but he is just a regular guy! There are several battles between Lando and other Gods and at times these can be quite epic but there is also home life (the interactions between Lando, his parents – both separated – and their partners are, at times funny enough to make your sides ache) and his love life.

So, all Lando has to do is face and beat an array of God’s, The Coming, and win the girl’s hand while not letting anyone know who he is/was. Oh, and win a slot at the comedy club night and host a TV customers show. There is, needless to say, quite a lot going on but it is to the author’s credit that at no point does it feel rushed or crammed. There are moments that will make you chuckle, touching moments and one’s to make you laugh out loud (the restaurant scene with his girlfriend and her family is a work of comedy genius in my opinion).

The other plus for me is that although the main character is God the book itself is not overly religious or preachy – just a good fun read that I will happily recommend to anyone

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Soul That Screamed by Dan Weatherer (a review)

The Soul That Screamed by Dan Weatherer
 
Now, this is, in my opinion, just how story collections should be. There is plenty of variety, more or less something for everyone. This is a first collection from Dan Weatherer, but to read his words you get the feeling of reading someone who's been doing this for a while.
 
Some of the tales here have the voice and style of the 'old masters' like Poe, Lovecraft, and M R James (The Legend of the Chained Oak, Florian, Siar's Rock) while others feel a lot more modern. There are ghost stories in here, there are zombie/re-animation stories here, there are demons a plenty, a 'creature feature (Fly Bad Butterfly, Fly - particularly disturbing for me this one as I have a ridiculous fear of butterflies and moths) and two darkly comic tales  ('Once A Butcher's Wife' and its' follow up 'Always A Butcher's Wife').
 
Weather comes across on the page as a more than competent author with a selection of 'author voices' to entertain you. I think we will be hearing a lot more from him in the future (I certainly hope so) and would be interested to see what he would do with a full length novel (and I want more stories of Agnes Ferry, the eponymous butcher's wife - you've got to love the old dear, even if she is a nasty piece of work at times)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams (a review)

The thing with being a fan of fantasy novels, series etc is that there is a lot to choose from out there - and a lot of it is formulaic, the same old same old, if you like. You often have to wade through a lot of  "average" to find a gem.

Fortunately Jen Williams debut 'The Copper Promise' is such a gem - and then some!

The story has everything you would want from a fantasy novel. There are the heroes, Wydrin (aka The Copper Cat) and Sebastian, a disgraced knight. There is a dispossessed Lord. There is a Dragon, there is an army of the aforementioned dragon, there are villains. And there is oh so very much more.

Oh, and dungeons complete with traps and treasure (can`t forget the dungeons!!).

But what this story has, above all else, is heart. It is a big world, with big characters but it feels real. You will care about their plight and their adventures.

What else sets this book above standard fantasy fare? One of the big things for me was the army of the dragon's children. They are developed in a very clever and believable way but I'll leave you to find that out for yourselves ;-)

The book itself was originally released in four separate parts and is still available as such on Amazon (for kindle) so if you wish to you can buy part one and give it a try if you want to but I would say just get the whole thing in one volume - you'll be glad you did!

The Copper Promise is the kind of story that got me reading fantasy in the first place and I honestly believe this will one day be looked on as a classic of the genre. And also, that Jen Williams will be a big name, up there with the likes of Sanderson, Rothfuss, Weeks, and Tad Williams.

Highly recommended - 7 stars out of 5 (and yes I can do that because a. it's that good, and b. it's my blog)

Go treat yourself and join Wydrin, Sebastian and Aaron Frith in the first of many adventures

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorne (a review)

As a general rule I don't read biographies. For me to pick one up it has to be of someone who interests me and I often end up not as engaged with the subject as I would have hoped, last year's Bruce (Springsteen) being a good example.

My second concern here was that I have been a fan of Thorne and her band, Everything But The Girl, from, probably, the late 80's. They say don't get to know your heroes, they will only disappoint you - well I'm glad to say that this wasn't the case here. Far from it in fact.

As an author Thorne has a syle that tells her story in a comfortable way. School days, being in her earlier band (The Marine Girls) and gigging with them fills the early part of the tale but what I believe I enjoyed most was the recollection of how she met Ben Watt (her now husband and fellow EBTG bandmate) as a fellow student in Hull. A lot of the stories, I soon realised, were relevent to the songs of the band and the fact that the songs were records, as it were, of actual events (especially 'Hadfield') lends a different feeling to both the music and the book.

All in all Thorne has done a good job with this, so much so that it isn't so much like reading, more like sitting in a comfy chair by the fire with an old friend and reminiscing.

If all biographies were this good I would read more 5/5

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Rainbow Man by P B Kane (a review)

Daniel Routh lives in a small fishing community on the island of Shorepoint with his mother and his little brother Mikey. After a storm he, his brother and two friends, Jill and Greg follow a rainbow and find a body on the beach. This strange, unknown man, when he recovers, becomes a part of community life, everyone seems to love him but Dan is not convinced. Alas he seems to be the only one though.

This is P B Kane's first foray into YA fiction (he is better known as Paul Kane) and a very fine effort it is too. Not as much of an all out horror story, more of a creeping fear. It makes you feel as though you are watching events, you want to yell at the characters to wise up to what is happening.

I must say I really enjoyed this and by the end I was so wrapped up in the story that when the 'reveal' of who the man on the beach really is I never saw it coming even though I should have guessed.

Hopefully Mr Kane will write more in this genre as well as his usual adult horror tales.

(and if you have a young adult reader treat them to a copy of this..........and read it yourself when you can pry it out of their hands )