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.


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Kindle Unlimited to Pay per Page

I don't know how I feel about this, so I'll start with the fact.

Amazon has announced, "Beginning July 1, 2015, we'll switch from paying Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL) royalties based on qualified borrows, to paying based on the number of pages read." - Source

What this means (broadly) is that when a KU user borrows a book, the author will be paid for the number of pages that is actually read by the borrower, and not on the fact that it was borrowed. In effect if I borrow a book and only read half of it, the author only receives half of the royalties that they would have, 

This is all achieved, I assume, by the wonders of the (clearly CIA named) Whispernet. 

I do see why they've done this. It should slay the slew of daft 15 page "I was turned gay by being taken by my own butt-hole" erotica (I use the term erotica loosely), which sells at .99c. I think that is a good thing, however, if "I was turned gay by being taken by my own butt-hole" is your bag, it may cause a problem.

Why will that happen? The authors. They'll withdraw their books. Their 15 page tome will get them tiny payments in royalty. They will be better off selling them outside of KU in the regular market (even with a potential drop to 35% royalty).

So that is hurting the authors and the readers of said material.

I'm an author. If it hurts the reader, I'm against it.

But what about other markets?

Well, I suppose I should up my game on writing twists, turns, and reveals, to make my writing more "page turnable". Hold on. That's a good thing, right? Make my writing better? To get more page turns? To make more money? (I know, I'm talking broad terms. All writers should continually improve their craft - not just for money. But we're not in it for the money, amirite?)

So that's a good thing?


Now this doesn't happen anywhere else, does it? If I buy a dvd (and I do...many) and it turns out to be shit and I turn it off after 15 minutes,  The Asylum (who make unbelievably shit films) still gets paid, right? Of course they do. A percentage of revenue of anything comes from purchases that are never used. It's economics.

So why is writing any different?

It shouldn't be.

Or maybe Amazon are Trailblazers. Maybe in a few years from now that apple at the back of the fridge that I forgot to eat I won't get charged for, the farmer won't get paid for, and we'll have less farmers.

Food for thought.