Concessions is about a woman faced impossible choices, and the "concessions" she makes in the name of family and duty. In the end she must decide whet...moreConcessions is about a woman faced impossible choices, and the "concessions" she makes in the name of family and duty. In the end she must decide whether one life is worth the price of another. In this brief, but detailed account of "Jane's" story, the author confronts her readers with questions we'd like to think we know the answers to. For example, how much is your life worth? Your happiness? Love?
Yes, another by C.M Saunders. I binge read authors I like. What can I say?
I’ve always enjoyed horror fiction, but my favorite books are those that do...moreYes, another by C.M Saunders. I binge read authors I like. What can I say?
I’ve always enjoyed horror fiction, but my favorite books are those that don’t go straight for the gore. That’s not scary. Authors that dig deep and dare to force the reader into uncomfortable situations and remind us of thoughts we try to avoid thinking are the true talent in this genre. In X, Chris Saunders shows he’s one of those talents.
He begins with an introduction, which is something I usually attempt to read but end up skipping. I didn’t skip this one. It found it very entertaining.
Moving onto the meat of the book: A Thin Disguise is probably my favorite of the bunch, with The Awful Truth running a close second, but each story in this collection lurks in your head long after you’ve finished reading. (As good horror stories should do.)
In the Afterword, Saunders discusses the inspiration/origins of each story, which I always enjoy reading. He also makes confession about his feelings about women at the end of it, which I think is kind of interesting. *Insert evil laugh here.*
The verdict: Yes, you should read this book.(less)
I used to read speculative fiction by the bucket load, but after exhausting my favorites, I moved onto other genres. Over the past few months, I’ve di...moreI used to read speculative fiction by the bucket load, but after exhausting my favorites, I moved onto other genres. Over the past few months, I’ve discovered some new authors in horror and sci-fi, and it’s all I’ve read since. Saunders is one of my recently discovered favorites and doesn’t disappoint with Devil’s Island.
Now, if you’re looking for a fancy or convoluted plot or lots of gore and bloody goings-on, this is not the book for you. The reason I love reading this author is that he writes with a clean style that pulls no punches, and it is this style that enables him to suck you into Devil’s Island without the bells and whistles. This book is all about the heebs you get when something (imaginary or not) is lurking just out of your line of sight, hunting you, breathing down your neck, whispering in your ear, persistently following you, waiting for the perfect opportunity to do whatever nasty it likes to do.
“Sounds like it’s been done before.” Well, you’d be right. It has. "So what makes this book different?" As you follow Davon, (the protagonist) into the isolated confines of Devil’s Island in the first pages, Saunders carefully injects a small amount of uncertainty, gently pushing you to the edge of your seat as you read on. Then he slowly builds the creep factor, scene by scene, disturbing your equilibrium just enough to make you turn the page, because you're hoping to find the solid ground horror authors usually give you between chapters(I call it the safe zone, where you're allowed to breathe and laugh at yourself for almost closing your eyes in previous pages). That solid ground never appears. No, not even at the end. This is what makes Devil’s Island worth reading. (less)
I wish I could give this 10 stars. Black Water Creek has action, mystery, suspense, supernatural goings-on, and a dash of romance. All of these awesom...moreI wish I could give this 10 stars. Black Water Creek has action, mystery, suspense, supernatural goings-on, and a dash of romance. All of these awesome things are combined with fantastic characterization and Brumm's easy writing style. I can't wait to read more by this author. (less)
Singular Points” introduces us to David. His wife has just died, which sends him spiralling into grief and anger. His despair over his loss leaves Dav...moreSingular Points” introduces us to David. His wife has just died, which sends him spiralling into grief and anger. His despair over his loss leaves David hopeless and unable to control even the simplest of emotions. At first you’re all “This shit is heavy,” and it is, but Mohrman’s writing style keeps you reading anyway, although you want to bawl right along with David, which makes reading kind of challenging. (Not that I cried. We know I don’t do that.)
The really cool thing about this book is the hidden layers. On the surface, it’s just a story about really cool stuff happening, but there’s an intangible weight to the words and events within it, so you start looking deeper as you read. For example, David’s grief carries him into an alternate plane, but this parallel reality David experiences isn’t really that far-fetched. When you lose someone you love, it's like having a piece of your heart or soul ripped out, and the grief is often so intense that you really do exist on a different “plane” than everyone around you. So even though supernatural things are happening in this story that never happen in real life, the reader can totally relate to the symbolism of the world Mohrman creates.
Okay, that’s as deep as I get folks. Let’s move on to why I think you should read this book. (I’m trying not to give away any spoilers.)
“Singular Points” tackles themes and concepts that can be pretty explosive, like creation according to science and faith, spiritualism, and alternate realities, but it's subtle, not preachy. You don't feel as though you have to pick sides and you don't feel the author is doing so either. And (possibly the most important part of all) it’s funny. The heavy content of the book is brilliantly balanced with humor and his writing style is economical, but not harsh. Mohrman doesn’t clutter the story with a bunch of frilly words, which would be hard to resist given the themes of the story, and there’s a subtle… reassurance (?) in the narrative. I don’t know how to describe it. You’d have to read it. So do it now. (less)
The experience of reading “Sticky White Mess” is kind of hard to put into words. There’s action, there’s lust mista...moreYou misled me, Mr. Bevan. Tsk. Tsk.
The experience of reading “Sticky White Mess” is kind of hard to put into words. There’s action, there’s lust mistaken for romance, and there’s spider splooge. At first reading this story was like back in the day when my brother and his friends would sit in his bedroom playing Dungeons and Dragons or whatever it was they played (I’m probably wrong) and I’d be in the living room listening to their chatter (I wasn’t allowed hanging out with them, because my coolness would’ve messed with their gaming mojo). Only this time, I laughed and laughed, and I knew what was going on.
I’d love to list a few of my favorite lines, but I’m not sure what the Amazon gods would say about them, since they’re all the ones with f-bombs and such.
Anyway, I was snorting, chuckling, etc. through most of this story, which is always refreshing. I think Cooper is my favorite character, probably because he gets all the best lines.
I haven’t read Bevan’s previous Cavern’s and Creatures books (although I plan to), but it was recommended I read in order. If you’re one of the short bus folks, you should probably follow that advice. We don’t want you more confused than you already are. The rest of you, Bevan is pretty good at easing the newbs into the action, so (in my opinion) you’ll enjoy these books no matter what order you read them in.
Basically, if you’re looking for a lighthearted, get you out of the PMS doldrums kind of read, I recommend Mr. Bevan’s books. Trust me. His work has been officially tested and proven to be highly effective. (less)
If someone said to me, “Hey, read this amazing book. It’s written in 2nd person POV—” I’d stop them right there. Then I’d say “No thanks. I hate readi...moreIf someone said to me, “Hey, read this amazing book. It’s written in 2nd person POV—” I’d stop them right there. Then I’d say “No thanks. I hate reading 2nd person POV, because it makes my brain melt.” I’m glad I didn’t know what POV “Nighthawks at the Mission” was written in, because my judgy jerk attitude would have caused me to miss out on a truly awesome book.
A short summary: This is a futuristic story in which settlers from the U.S. have come to live in The Oberon (Off-World). It is a land that is accessed by an energy portal in the South Pacific. Once there, the settlers mine orichalcum- a mineral that can give people magical powers.
You are Sarah Orange, and you have settled in The Oberon. And the adventure begins, although the previous chapters introducing you to yourself are extremely entertaining and you should read them. I forgot about POV after the first page, drawn into the insane (and very cool) world created by the author. The vivid descriptions of people (or not-people) and settings is pretty damn impressive. Sometimes a reader feels she’s stepped into the mind of a nutcase, but not in a bad way. The Oberon is a bleak, and sometimes deadly place that floats somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy.
This book isn’t for folks who don’t like to think while they read. While it seems like just a fun ride on the surface, West creeps inside your brain with each detail and forces you to try to figure out what he’s telling you. I’m not sure I have, so I’m going to read it again. (less)
Usually I choose a couple of stories from anthologies and review those, but for the second time this year, I’ve read a collection where I loved EVERY...more Usually I choose a couple of stories from anthologies and review those, but for the second time this year, I’ve read a collection where I loved EVERY story. 2014 has been good to the reader in me. So, because there aren’t a shit ton of stories in this book, I’m going to give you all a couple of thoughts about each one. No need to thank me.
Anyway, here goes:
MISTER WHITE by John C. Foster
I love spy stories, but this one has teeth (of the horrific variety). The writing style of this author only enhances the creep factor of “Mister White.” I’m not sure what to call said style, but it crawls beneath your skin and kind of lurks there. How’s that? Anyway, definitely leaves you with a few shivers.
DREAMING IN AND OUT by Carol Holland March
Captivating writing coupled with surreal and subtle horror. I read this one a couple of times just to experience the storytelling again. I’m weird like that.
MOONLIGHTING by Chad McKee
One of my top three favorites in this collection, I’ll probably read this story several times in the future. Imagine you could do all the things the darker corners of your brain like to dream about (don’t pretend I’m the only one, you jerks), and get away with it? This story truly grabbed me, mostly because I imagine such a world exists out there somewhere, and it’s just waiting for the right person to find it.
WORMHOLE by J. Daniel Stone
A tragic tale about love and loss, deepened by the knowledge that the darkness described hides inside all of us (if we’re honest); solid writing with a poetic flavor I enjoyed.
REMEMBER ME by David Blixt
I saw where this was going as I read the first page, but then the author made me doubt my suspicions. Crafty, that one. Another of my top three favorites, the surprise ending shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is. You all think I’m crazy now, don’t you.
THE FIRST YEARS by David Siddall
“Every society has its monsters. Some live down the street. Others wrap themselves in the cloak of government.” I think the cover blurb says it all. Fantastic writing with subtle, psychological horror (My favorite kind.). Loved this one.
THE ELEMENTALS AND I by C.M. Saunders
Another of my top three favorites, although I’ll admit to being a little biased. I’ve read this author before and he’s taking up considerable space on my “To Read” list. This tale begins simply, but drags you into a horrific supernatural world you’re glad “doesn’t” exist. Saunders has a very clean writing style that drags you into the story and pulls no punches once you’re there. I’ve always thought the pharmaceuticals industry was sketchy, and this story tapped into my suspicious nature. Honestly, I had to dump the contents of my medicine cabinet when I finished. And I’m glad I did.
RELEASE by Jane Brooks & Peter Whitley
I like The Walking Dead, but I’ve never been a fan of zombie fiction in general. This story changed that. I’d read any zombie anything written by these two. This story stays with you, because it makes you question the unquestionable and the answers aren’t comfortable at all.
WATER, SOME OF IT DEEP by David Murphy
Disturbing. The build is slow initially, but this story is worth reading through to the end, and I have to comment on the solid writing and characterization. Very well written.
ACCEPTANCE by Kenneth Whitfield
This started as an amusing story, but I kept wondering, where’s the darkness? I did NOT see it coming and then it just slapped me in the face. Awesome.
VARIATIONS OF SOULLESSNESS by A.A. Garrison
I can’t say a lot about this one without giving away spoilers. Some might be able to, but I’ve written and deleted about three paragraphs now, because I give away things you shouldn’t know. Anyway, exquisite writing and I chuckled more than a few times. Perhaps the chuckling is a sign I have no soul, I don’t know. Read this one. Seriously.
CHAPELSTON by Rhesa Sealy
Crime, Sherlock, and serial killers: These are a few of my favorite things. All of them, along with stellar storytelling, are in Chapelston. I imagine this as a bigger story, and I really wish there was more, which is a good thing, in my opinion.
LAST CALL by JC Hemphill
So, what’s your life worth? This is the question “Last Call” leaves you with, along with a few others. An action-packed story that stays with you long after you reach the end.
CITY SONG by Edward Morris & Trent Zelazny
This haunting tale is the perfect closer for this anthology. I admire the writing style of these authors. Definitely looking for more of their work.
So, in summary: Go buy this book. Don't look at me like that. Do it now. It has something for everyone, even if you’re not into horror. I promise. (less)
You know what I love about short fiction anthologies? You get to read a bunch of authors in one handy book, and discover shiny new ones to add to your...moreYou know what I love about short fiction anthologies? You get to read a bunch of authors in one handy book, and discover shiny new ones to add to your “to read” list. On the down side, my list is getting way too frigging long, because I’ve added every author included in “FLYING TOASTERS.” Every story in this collection is well written and entertaining, and there’s a mixture of genres and styles, ranging from gritty to haunting and from thought-provoking to ridiculous. I find it hard to rate short story collections, but this time I had no problem. Every story deserves 5 stars.
At first I was going to choose my favorites to review, but I had a hard time choosing, so I’ve decided to tell you why each is worth a read. Good thing this anthology includes just a handful of authors, eh?
“The Man Upstairs” (Hanna Elizabeth) – Funny spin on ghosts that stays with the reader after “The End.” I cringed at the cat in the closet prank, because I've been there. (no spoilers, so I can't expand beyond that)
"The Cave" (Brian L. Braden) Possibly my favorite of the bunch (I know I said I couldn’t pick, but maybe I lied. I'm totally fan-girling Mr. Braden now.), “The Cave” is beautifully written and subtly creepy. (You’d have to read to understand what I mean, and I’m not giving away spoilers, so there.) I reread many passages in this story simply for the “magic” created in the words Braden chose. Among my top five in this story: “Men are loud in the face of dangers they understand, but fall silent in the shadow of the unknown.” I’m weird like that with the words.
"My Dead Friend Nancy" (Robert Brumm) – Solid storytelling. Loved this one. Usually stories focus on the awesomeness of immortality, but Mr. Brumm reminds us why it’s wise to know the “cons” of never dying as well.
"The Lightgiver" (Thomas Cardin) – Ladies, you really must read this one. That is all.
"Altitude Sickness" (C.M. Saunders) – This is why I don’t like planes…and people. The “big guy” in the story was so irritating I wanted to punch the book, which would have sucked because it’s an e-book…but anyway, extremely well written. Excellent characterization.
"Nymph-O-Maniacs" (Robert Bevan) – Hilarious. And, he used the word “hoo-ha.” Enough said.
"Prism" (John Gregory Hancock)- At first I thought this would be your typical fantasy story with fancy heroes and such, but I was pleasantly surprised. Very cool idea. No, not telling you why. Read it and find out.
"The Ballad of Azron Berzon" (Steven Wetherell) – Another funny one. I love this author’s style, and was hooked by this story in the first page, probably with this paragraph: “Port Town was ugly, but honest. The special kind of honest you get when everybody likes, and expects to be lied to. If there was any truth to the city, it wisely kept its mouth shut.” (less)
I can't believe I forgot to review this! I wouldn't have picked this book up if I hadn't read some of the fanfic associated with it. I'm glad I did. F...moreI can't believe I forgot to review this! I wouldn't have picked this book up if I hadn't read some of the fanfic associated with it. I'm glad I did. Fantastic writing and a haunting fictional world you can't stop thinking about long after you've finished. I understand the huge following Howey has and why they choose to write in this world. Definitely worth reading. (less)
Imagine if you found a vampire running an art school in New York. And what if he fell in love? Okay so it's more like the memory of love that haunts s...moreImagine if you found a vampire running an art school in New York. And what if he fell in love? Okay so it's more like the memory of love that haunts said vampire, but to make this easier, just imagine a vampire art teacher in love. Good? Okay, now set the romance back during the Holocaust. Right there you've got a glimpse into the fantastic premise behind THE COLOR OF LIGHT.
I don’t think there’s a part of this book where I was all “Totally skipping this bit,” (I tend to skim the boring parts). I wanted to read every single delicious word. The author weaves history, art, glamor, publishing, romance and (yes really!) vampires into an intricate web of awesome.
But I said “Holocaust” and you’re probably wondering how such a dark element could be “romantic” or “awesome.” I’ll tell you: The author focuses on the Holocaust and the infinite horror it caused to many souls, but she balances this dark subject matter with an almost perfect amount of lightness and humor. I can’t explain it, so you’ll just have to read and see what I mean.
I think the main reason I loved this novel, though, is not the author’s obvious skill in weaving the thematic elements, but the characters. What a rich cast, both main and secondary, of memorable and complex characters. Very well done. (I tend to judge characterization harshly, so I’m always impressed when I can’t find a reason to criticize.)
I rarely get to read a book that stays with me for a while after the last page, but after finishing this one I carried the airy feeling of drifting through time around for days, which is awesome. So, basically, I recommend checking this one out. (less)