Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Review: The Little Book of Horrors

Huh?


A deliciously wicked treat, no holds barred horror served up bloody with a side dish of sex. The Little Book of Horrors is macabre, disturbing, viciously satisfying and definitely not for the squeamish. 

Look. I'm going to be honest here. That description may be a little misleading. 

I double checked. This book is for adults.

*sigh* Where do I start?

Okay, so I don't want to rip the collection to pieces, mostly because I haven't got time, so I'll just go through the first story. Um. Spoilers. 

Karma's a Psychopath.

So, a guy meets a man about a monkey. No that's not the beginning of a joke. The guy buys a marmoset to use as a prop in his business venture in Benidorm (!). He spends his evenings charging 10 euros a pop for people to have their photo taken with a now abused monkey.

I shit you not.

A few weeks later, a woman turns up and picks up the guy. Even takes the monkey with them. Kinky. 

Her name is Karma. Oh.... now I get it. Karma.

Anyway, she kills him. And takes care of the monkey. No. Not like that. That's disgusting.

The end. 

I don't know where to begin. It's not interesting. It's not "no holds barred horror". There's no "macabre". It's not "disturbing", "satisfying", and my mom would read this with the lights out. 

Yes the stories in here should be classed as horror. But so should Addams Family Reunion. The one without Raul Julia.  

Think of something nice to say. Think of something nice to say. 

It's edited pretty well. Laid out okay. Cover's...the right size.

And that's why it isn't getting zero stars. It could have been worse.


   

You can purchase this abomination against viciously satisfying, disturbing, horror here:



Thursday, 19 May 2016

Review: Afterworld

Listed on Amazon as a romantic comedy? Interesting...


Zack remembers his death, waking up in a world much like our own. But there is no disease, no death, no hope. The enigmatic judge tells him he will remain in Afterworld until he takes care of his problems. And so begins a struggle against his worst enemy: himself. Can he stop using women, or will he be cursed to just go on forever? How does one accept their fate, when they know of better? To succeed, he must pass the test, overcome his failings and prove what he does is not who he is...

I'm a big fan of Donald White's Otherplace (my review / buy link). It's a cool bizarro/horror. But for a few minor discrepancies it works. And it's great. It's stylish horror. It fits well with White's back catalog. Mostly horror, and a few oddities.

Afterworld is an oddity.

I was hoping for more "Otherplace" in here, I'll admit. Hell, the book description lends to bizarro. But no. This is pretty much a straight played romance. Just set in the afterlife is all.

Zack is what you and I would call a player. Then he dies, and in Afterworld he can be anything he likes. So naturally he falls on his base instinct. It makes him an unlikable protagonist to begin with.

He does grow on you though.

I'd challenge White about the comedy aspect of it, but that could be that I'm from a different part of the world. Or that I don't really do romantic comedies. It is sweet, touching, even, but it didn't garner great laughs from me.

For a book far outside of my normal remit, I'll admit to not really wanting to put it down. In fact I did blast through it quicker than I normally read. That, I put down to White's writing style.

Again, his writing is good. It's clear. It's not littered with mistakes. The editing is sharp. In fact the only noticeable error I found was the Afterworld was mis-typed as Afterplace at one point, and I was drawn to wanting a mashup of the two. (Go on Donald. For me.)

It's a good, solid, romance, and an easy entrance to the genre.


You can buy it:

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Review: Needfire

My first taste of Amy Braun. Surely not my last.


A virus has spread across the country, infecting its victims and turning them into bloodthirsty monsters. Trained soldiers are dispatched to eliminate the threat, no matter how mild the infection seems.

Sophia, Isaac, and Reyes live on the run, scavenging what they can and staying away from both sides of the conflict. But all of that changes when one of them becomes infected.

As they struggle to find the rumored cure, the three friends begin to realize that the virus isn't what it seems, and that finding it may cost them more than they could ever imagine...

While I would love to see a sequel to this novella, sadly it was released some time ago, and I feel the author has moved on to new projects. But man, it's cool.

Those that read my reviews will know that I generally review horror. And this does have horror elements, but at it's heart it is so much more. Set in a world of "bloodthirsty monsters" (vampires) this is a tale of commitment, bravery, and relationships.

At it's heart, it is a romance.

But, you know, with death, and blood letting. The best kind really.

The thing is, the best kind of horror has you with the characters, and Braun does that. She defines the characters with ease, and deftly weaves them into the tale.

It's quite mesmerizing to read.

This is an outstanding read.



Monday, 18 April 2016

Celestials - OUT NOW!

From author of the macabre, Mark Taylor comes the penultimate book in the series of The Devil's Hand!


The celestials have threatened to go to war with Hell. Only if they’re given Darin, The Devil’s Hand, will they call off their armies. 

Banished from his home with no powers, friends, or places to hide, Darin still seeks out the journals, trying to assemble some reasoning behind everything that has happened. 

But when the celestials fail to contain him, they send something else. 

Something much worse than an angelic body. 

The penultimate chapter in The Devil’s Hand series, Celestials, sees Darin fight for his life, meet with new friends and reacquaint with old. 

Go back to where it all began... 

...before it’s too late.

EXCERPT

   As a sigh escaped his lips, Darin trudged further into Purgatory. It was depressing.
   
   Although he supposed that was the point.
   
   The ghosts of those that died in Hell and on Earth drifted by, a glimpse of their faces, torn into terrible screams for eternity, haunted each of The Hand’s footfalls. It was a dim reminder of what could happen.
   
   In the distance a lone figure appeared. He stood and waited as Darin got closer. The hat gave it away.
   
   “Tesla,” Darin said, greeting him.
   
   “Hello, Hand.”
   
   Darin raised his hands passively, a sign of peace. “Where is he?”
   
   “He’s here,” the ex-Alp nodded.
   
   “Where?”
   
   “Here, Hand. He wants to know what you want,” Tesla smiled.
   
   Darin looked surprised. “What are you, his bitch?”
   
   Tesla laughed. “After what I have foreseen? I wonder why you are here myself.”
   
   “Don’t you know?” Darin smirked.
   
   Tesla tilted his head to the side. “It’s curious. I know what will happen up there. I always have, but I see nothing here in Purgatory. It is like the reality of what is, and what is to become, does not belong here. Perhaps I do, therefore, belong here. Where it is dull, and safe…”
   
   “Petiot?”
   
   “I am here, Hand.” Petiot’s growl came from behind Darin. He turned. Petiot was burned, scarred, from their last encounter. His skin was raw and his eyes glowed a deep red. “Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you where you stand.”
   
   “Because,” Darin answered, “first I’d like to see you try, and second…well, I’m worth more as The Hand than I am as a fleeting moment of satisfaction…to you, at least.”
   
   Petiot snorted. “What do you want?”
   
   “The Journals, of course.”

***

Available now from Amazon only 99c/99p:



***

Mark Taylor's debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.

While most of Mark's work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often. 
Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination. 


Whichever it is he works happily, portraying dark existences on this planet and others. He relays his fears and doubts on his characters, so always has a smile. If Mark is real, as some say he is, you might find him in England. 

Perhaps.

You can find him at his website: www.authormarktaylor.com, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorMarkTaylor

"A fresh burn of imagination!" - Variety Reviews

"Definitely a great book." - Drunken Druids View

"Mark Taylor drags you down into the darkest and most twisted pits of human nature." - Darren Gallagher, author of Strings

"In The Human Condition, Mark Taylor blends American horror with an English elegance." - Eden Royce, author of Containment

"[Shutter Speed] worms its way into your psyche and latches on as you watch the events unfold." - The Bibliophilic Book Blog

Friday, 15 April 2016

Review: Bad Neighborhood


In this chilling horror collection, 29 writers and poets have come together to share tales of the grotesque, the supernatural, and more. Their words will pluck you from your comfort zone and leave you for dead, or worse. Have you ever considered where evil bides its time when it’s not outside your door? What disturbing locale could make it feel safe? We've all heard that home is where the heart is, but alas, that heart is sometimes racing…

We hope you live in a good neighborhood. 

Or not so much. I mean, it's not bad. Just not overly memorable. 

And that cover.

It's just...boring. A little. I mean I finished it, so that says something, right?

It is presented well. Fox Emm does a good job of the editing, there are no noticeable errors worth mentioning, and it's formatted well. I remember liking a couple of the stories. I enjoyed Intruder by Hugh Warren, a standout because of the style.

I just can't recommend the book on the whole, because it doesn't stand out. I read without being grasped. It was something to do, rather than something I wanted to do.

So, not a good review, but not a bad one. I suppose having nothing of merit to say says as much about as I need.

Btw: I won this in a Twitter competition from one of the authors.


You can purchase it here: http://www.amazon.com/Neighborhood-Misfit-Horror-Anthologies-Book-ebook/dp/B018O3SIIA

Friday, 8 April 2016

Back it up, or Lose it no more. CLOUD COMPUTING.

*Expunges grief*

Opening your unfinished novel to find this
AAargh.

Well. It finally happened. I got caught out. Didn't backup for a couple of weeks. "Too busy". Obviously.

*Sticks pen drive in hole*

PC: DEVICE NOT RECOGNISED

*Takes out. Pushes in*

PC: DEVICE RECOGNISED

*Opens latest draft of novel*

PC: HA HA HA. FUCK YOU.

And it's gone. Not just some of it. But all of it. Within my magical USB device of transportation now lies a battleground of broken, decapitated, and sucked dry wastrels of what used to be novels, websites, and marketing materials. Book covers are gone. It was just devastation.

As far as the eye can see...

Okay, fine. 99% of it was backed up. It was just one document. My novel. You know. The secret one. (That I'll be blabbing about soon)

Anyway. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I'm more worried about you. Because it happens to most prolific creators eventually.

CRASHES. CORRUPTION.

So I did a little research. (I'm a IT professional by trade, so...trust me, I guess?).

Google Drive is a thing where you can store your digital stuff online. In THE CLOUD. Which is fine, great, MS do OneDrive, etc. etc. But like a lot of people Google has eeked its way into my life (like a disease) so I looked at that.

You can download Drive onto your computer, which creates folders on your hard drive, allowing you to work locally if you prefer. It stops you from having to download documents to work on them and upload them after.

When a file is saved into these folders it automatically synchronizes with THE CLOUD and a backup is created.

So, sort of perfect really.

If you work on the files without an internet connection present (like in the dark ages of oh, I don't know, five years ago?) it synchronizes when there is one present.

Go now.

Google is the future.

I am in no way affiliated with Google btw.




Photo credit: jaci XIII via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Review: How to be Dead (Book 1)


Dave Marwood is trapped in a soul crushing dead end job. He’s in love with his work colleague Melanie and his only friend Gary is a conspiracy theory nut. 

His life is going nowhere until he has a Near Death Experience - though Death thinks of it as a Near Dave Experience. He discovers gifts he never knew he possessed and a world he never dreamed existed. A world where the Grim Reaper is a hard drinking, grumpy Billy Joel fan and the undead are bored, lonely and dangerous. 

How To Be Dead is the first part in a three novella funny urban fantasy series that tells the story of Death and his office staff protecting humanity from ghosts, zombies, vampires and medium-sized apocalypses. 

After a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. 

Look. I'm not mixing it up here. This shit is funny. And readable. And for Death's sake, why isn't Dave Turner the next Terry Pratchett? Yeah. Spoilers. This is getting five stars.

So after a near death experience, Dave is plunged into the world of spooks, death, and biscuits. Hobnobs to be precise.

Taking the turn of the every man, Dave is a wonderfully realized protagonist. He is nerdy, clumsy, nervous, and generally, well, an every man.

As is Death.

And this makes for a wonderful read.

I can't say much without getting into spoiler-y territory, but I read this in record time. I could barely put it down. It's a shorter read, yes, but develops character's wonderfully. Probably because there are so few of them. All are believable for what they are (like, Death), and none stick out as not needing to be there.

It's only downside (probably) is that it is terribly British. I think the jokes will translate, but some may miss in a different culture.

But honestly? Give it a go. It's wonderful.