Sunday, 2 August 2015

New Release: By The Stars

Science Fiction Space Opera? Yes please!

Allie is faced with her worst nightmare as she boards a space ship that will transport her and her children from their home forever. The human population has dwindled to around 15,000 as the Earth’s become hostile.

If they stay they will die.

The alien race who’s come to their rescue seem to have no concept of selfishness, but Allie has her doubts. She’s separated from her husband and left to fend for her family on her own. It’s up to her to make sure that they survive the trip across the stars.





Excerpt

I go through our bags and pull out our clothes, a few books, and my tool belt. It would have been straining in line, something for the girls to tug on and fiddle with unwanted. Here, I tie it around my waist hoping for a job. The Cih’lnarians expect us to work together, carry the cause as one.
I have my doubts as to how this will be productive. Humans need incentive. We don’t just do things to make sure all goes well like they do.

We’ve been given a three day period of rest to help us adjust, but I wish to have all necessities ready in case my services are required. I’ve always been an active person. I don’t intend to sit around waiting for other people to do their portion of the work. I’ll do what I have to regardless of what everyone else does.

Maybe that’s the mom in me. All my life I’ve been taught to prepare for the worst. Ever since becoming a mother, it’s only driven me further. I’m always cautious about our safety and survival.
The girls help me arrange our things on the shelf. Clothes on the bottom, books beneath our provisional supplies. It looks scant. Then again, our lives have always been a series of small surroundings.

Adam encouraged each of us to bring a book. These rare heir­looms have become sacred to those of us who have been taught to read. Time wears them down, but most humans have passed on favorites through generations. Many classics are only spoken through memory now. It’s a tradition that links us, but I do feel a connection to the pages that transfer specific words from our ancestors.

I laugh as I stare at my husband’s copy of his favorite space fiction. Running my fingertips along the cover, I slide them over the tattered edges and let the earthy aroma of the dusty pages sweep over me. It’s much like traveling to another world.

Adam’s always had space travel in him. It’s in his blood. He’s a descendent of the astronauts who used to travel beyond Earth, before our lack of resources caused the programs to shut down exploration. Of course, traveling through space physically as opposed to philosophically is very different, but I enjoy reading his torn up old book.

With a squeeze of my hand on the binding, I hear my husband’s voice in my head, think of the days when we made time to read to each other. It didn’t matter that they were the same stories told again and again. The feel of the tales always brought us together.

“You okay, mom?” Maddi gently touches my hand.


“I miss him is all.”

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About the Author




Jessica is a member of The St. Louis Writer’s Guild. Her stories have been featured by Bewildering Stories, Fiction on the Web, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine, Hellfire Crossroads, and others. She has a Paranormal Romance novelette titled Tale of Two Bookends through Cobblestone Press LLC, and a children’s book about religious diversity and acceptance titled, My Family Is Different. You check her out at www.jessicamariebaumgartner.com

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Review: Undead Regeneration, by Rebecca Besser

The sequel to Undead Drive-Thru is here:


Following on from the events of Undead Drive-Thru we continue into the slightly surreal world that the author has created.

In the first book, reviewed here, we were introduced to a somewhat bizarre situation involving a single zombie. As always, I'm spoiler free, so if you haven't read the first book I won't be spoiling the ending of that, either.

The book continues, some time after the events of the first, following on a natural progression. Yes some answers are given, no it's clearly not the end.

First thoughts? Well, first off, this one's novely. (Novelly? Noveller?) Anyway. It's a novel. Cool. I can dig that. The first instalment was a novella and while a great read, didn't have time to let up the pace. Character build. Lot of action, (Is that a bad thing?) but as I stated in my review of it, it gently plucked the heart-strings with emotional depth. The sequel works on that layer but heavier than the first.

So, down to the meat and bones. So to speak.

Okay, let me advise you first, if you're looking for an action zombie, grit, blood, brains, goo, ick, sick, bludgeoning, gorefest... this isn't for you. Think of it as the second act to book one.

Undead Drive-Thru slapped you in the face. It gave you the opening action-horror fest. It gave the protagonists a journey they had yet to follow. This is act two. The protagonists learn about the world, themselves, and each other. A broader world is given over. In other words the zombies don't arrive on page one. So it's a slow burn.

The two main protagonists of the piece (hey, give me a break. I can't give you names without implying the end of the first one!), share a solid relationship, going through day to day problems. And yes, they're real. They come across as relateable characters. This is the slow burn.

They're edged into the company (possibly) involved in the events of the first book by (possibly) shady government agents to help unfold things. That's when slow burn turns into page turn.

At the end of the character development, you of course have to ramp things up, and Besser does it in her usual style. Things turn from bad to worse (to worse again) for our hero's and we get the second half of the book full of what we were waiting for. Zombies, monsters, good guys, bad guys, fighting, romance, and a twist in the tail.

Overall, it's a good read, well paced, with just the right blend of horror and action, but because of the added emotional content in first half of the book, it may be more suitable to mature readers than it predecessor.

For me? Well, I'm now waiting for the next one.

You can buy it on Amazon US here, Amazon UK here, and by all means, drop by and say hi to the author, here.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Released, at last: The Human Condition

After five years of waiting, The Human Condition sees the light of day...


MARK TAYLOR DEVELS INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE HUMAN PSYCHE  IN NEW BOOK, THE HUMAN CONDITION


[South East England, United Kingdom] – On July 1, 2015, Mark Taylor releases The Human Condition, a collection of short horror stories focused on the evil festering inside humankind.

These tales don’t use magic or the paranormal to reveal their dark side to the world, they unflinchingly show people being bastards to one another. Psychological tortures abound alongside the physical, and rip away the security you feel in being around your co-worker, your neighbor, your spouse…

Read about the lengths people will go to in order to achieve their goals and desires. Normality fades away as the true depravity of the human mind comes to light, dragging with it soul chilling deeds. Our tendencies as people are toward greed and selfishness, but we put those aside to co-exist with others. Or some of us do. Want to see a real monster? Look in the mirror…

The Human Condition was published on July 1 by Gnome on Pig Publications and will soon be available on Amazon in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle editions.

***


If you would like more information about The Human Condition or wish to schedule an interview with Mark, please email the author at mark@authormarktaylor.com

***

From Write what you know:

"All that night I laid on my couch, restless, waiting for the door to crash inwards as armed police raided my apartment. It never happened. The following morning it wasn’t on the news, it wasn’t in the paper…I seemed to have gotten away with it Scot-free. Throughout that night I had engorged on the memory of the woman’s face as she died before me. I now had a real insight—unlike my peers—into the real workings of horror. I had decided that I could now write…what I know.

As I sat in front of my computer the following day, I had started to write a brief summary of the events of the night before, just to keep the memory fresh in my head. As I typed, the look in the woman’s face kept staring back at me. It felt real…just as real as writing about the smell of coffee in the morning.

But something was missing. After I had typed the summary, the memory of the woman’s face had started to fade very quickly. It was as if by my very writings, I had removed the memory and burned it onto the paper. Damn. I couldn’t write about it if I couldn’t remember it.

All that risk, the planning, all that for a summary? It wasn’t fair. In my haste—with a rashness of thought—I decided that the only thing that I could do, was to do it again."

***

Currently on Lulu for purchase:

ebook


Paperback


Hardcover



Monday, 29 June 2015

Review: Otherplace, by Donald White.

Why haven't more people read this? Why did it get a new cover? Answers to none of these questions below!!


As an aside completely, I love the original cover. So much. It captures the book perfectly. Have you seen Akira? Think Akira... the original cover sums up this novel perfectly. Sadly, I guess the powers that be decided it wasn't giving the right first impression, which granted, it may not have been.

So what is Otherplace?

I don't know. The characters don't seem to know. But it is of little consequence...

It's hard to say what Otherplace is about. It's about two young girls and a fight for survival. Seemingly trapping in Otherplace, they battle evil doctors and nurses (who are not what they seem), dragons and other, heartless, children, while helped by two telepathic stuffed animals.

Sound weird?

It is.

Part horror, part bizarro, Otherplace is a step apart from author Donald White's previous work. Did I say step apart? I mean step forward. It's better. Is it great? Perhaps. The story is well structured, and it is well written and edited. Its dream-like portrayal of the world is fascinating, and to be honest it's hard to put down.

The only notable distraction I can think to mention is the authors sudden inclination to call characters 'The Boy' or 'The Girl' instead of their given names. It's clearly an artistic choice, but it is certainly odd.

Otherplace is White's crowning achievement in story-telling (from what I have read so far), and I do hope that he revisits the genre and stylings of Otherplace, if not the place itself.

I will recommend it happily, and you can buy it on Amazon US here, Amazon UK here, or visit Donald's blog, here.



The other cover, you say?




Read it. It will all make sense.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Review: Spook Lights, by Eden Royce

Southern charm, and elegant horror;


Spook Lights is a collection of southern gothic horror by writer Eden Royce. It has all of her trademarks as well: it's dark, brooding, and slow burn horror; sensual, gripping, and makes you want more...

Containing twelve "tales of terror" Spook Lights is a different type of horror. You won't find stories laden with gore here, oh no. These are stories that make you think. You'll see each scenario so clearly. Royce has a way with words. Her writing drips emotion and will drag you into each story different as they are. And each will leave you with a chill. Something to ponder long after you've finished reading.

I do feel I have to pick a couple of stories for shout out.

The Watered Soul

From the very beginning of the story you're sucked into the hot, sweltering, lust of Charleston, the smells, the people... it's mesmerizing. The characterization is strong and the story striking. You'd never guess the ending, and it shows a fantastic grasp of story telling.

Hand of Glory.

Yeah. This is one for me. It's short, sharp, has wit. A man arrested, the claustrophobia of the cell... the interrogator... a sleight story with a drawn breath of an ending.

If you like to be chilled, but aren't in it for the face-ripping, this collection is well worth a look.

You can get it on Amazon US here, Amazon UK here, and why not drop by on the authors website as well, here.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Review: Angel Manor, by Chantal Noordeloos

Oh, the horror.

I've read Chantal Noordeloos before. But I've obviously never read Chantal Noordeloos before. Angel Manor is a different beast.



Angel Manor is the story of three friends who acquire a house in Scotland, a house that hides a secret and not all is to be believed.

"A beautiful house – with a dark and deadly secret.

When Freya inherits her mother's childhood home, she sees it as an opportunity. A chance for a new life with her best friends, as they convert the crumbling mansion into an exclusive hotel.

Instead, they'll be lucky to escape with their lives.

As the first hammers tear through the bricked up entrances, a dark, terrible and ancient evil stirs beneath the house. An evil that has already laid claim to Freya and her companions' souls."

This is a novel of the straight up, good, bad and ugly. So let's start in order:

The good.

Angel Manor has a very strong story. Conceptually it is about a house were evil lurks, however, it is a new voice on the subject. This is a different sort of evil in a different sort of house. From the start to the finish the story is very solid. Sure, it has it's bumps, but on the whole it is well woven tale.

It is also well written. It is edited well. The story doesn't stumble over grammatical errors, nor plots holes, and it didn't out stay it's welcome.

It's also scary. The point oft missed with horror novels by new authors.

The Bad.

I was disappointed with the characterization of the three protagonists. They are broadly painted with a stereotypical brush. Given the (proper, door holding, tea-drinking) Englishman and a (brash, loud, sexually promiscuous) American, and Freya who is all things to all people. However over the length of the story, while their traits don't change, they do grow as characters.

The Ugly.

Ick. If you like a nice gentle scare without any gore, you won't find it here. Yes, it's well done, but if you find gore to be something that trembles your stomach, then this isn't for you. That said? Yeah, I love it.

Overall the positives largely out weight the negatives. There is one scenario that plays out that will stay with me and haunt me. Damn for my no-spoilers rule. I wish I could share.

You can buy Angel Manor on Amazon US here, Amazon UK here, and don't forget to check ou t Chantal's website, here.


Review: Undead Drive-Thru, by Rebecca Besser

This seemed an appropriate time for me to get off my ass and get back on track with completing my reviews. With Undead Regeneration emerging into the fray shortly, I give you the horror of the Undead Drive-Thru:



Author Rebecca Besser has been on my radar for some time. You'll have seen my reviews of her work here, and you'll see that I like it.

So it'll be no surprise that Undead Drive-Thru is no different.

Take a zombie story, and make it different. It's what Besser does.

Undead Drive-Thru is about a Drive-Thru (*coughs*, obviously) with a horrible secret, a secret that endangers the lives of all involved. I don't do spoilers here, but lest to say that getting a summer job here might mean more than a paycheck.

The work emotes a fear, and an intrepid-ness in the reader. When I read the title, I thought I could see what was coming. Boy, was I wrong. My expectation was wrong, the story didn't go where I thought it was going and I was glad. I was expecting more gore than I got, and that the story took it a different way was a pleasant surprise.

Besser brings an emotional lay to the story, one that is oft missing in indie horror, where the writer can lean on heavy blood-letting to emote fear, and giant monsters to make the reader recoil; things rarely go bump in the night, lest a chainsaw wielding maniac is about to rampage through the house. Undead Drive-Thru does not do that. It creeps up on you. Sits next to you. Then it bites you on the neck.

This is a story of people and perspective. It is not a story of gore, but it is one of fear. Suitable for a cross section of readers, I think, it should sate the desire for horror, but won't please the gore hounds.

Sadly, it is only a novella.

Guess I'll be buying the sequel when it comes.

You can buy it on Amazon US here, and Amazon UK here, and don't forget to check Rebecca's website also, here.