Preserve one’s own element, stick to it, don’t intermarry between elements: sounds a simple enough rule, doesn’t it? Maybe in an ideal world, people wPreserve one’s own element, stick to it, don’t intermarry between elements: sounds a simple enough rule, doesn’t it? Maybe in an ideal world, people would have continued to heeded this small stricture of the God of Magic, who provided the elements initially. But any society is hardly ever ideal-and when people forget, or turn to science, or embrace the concept that such rules are simply legend and myth-then people forget, and intermarry, and elements mix. So offspring were born who possessed an element, but only weakly; and sometimes there simply was no element at all in a particular individual. So Magic itself began to decline, weakening and diluting. Sometimes, those without an element found they could acquire one-if only temporarily-by murder. As we all know, murder rarely satisfies a killer for very long-and elements acquired by murder don’t remain-so those under the control of “magic disease,” discovered to be contagious through intimate transmission, are almost always feared and dreaded-even to the point of becoming murder victims themselves.
At the University of Magic, our heroine Ria, who possesses Element of Fire, and her best friend Paula, of the Element of Air and a scientific research-oriented mind) are first-year students, with the goal of learning to use their elements. Paula wants also to find the cure for “magic disease” and eventually eradicate it. All four elements (fire, air, water, earth) attend the University, so naturally the odds are they will encounter individuals who hold other elements, and even feel drawn to some of them. A “magic disease” carrier, Adrian, is also a University of Magic student, perhaps because he had been orphaned and society really knows nowhere else to place him.
Going by the settings, the characterizations, and the issues, I believe this novel would appeal to readers who enjoy YA Paranormal, and perhaps YA Fantasy. ...more
This is a sad, but not dysfunctional, depressed but yet hopeful, story of one young girl’s striving for empowerment, in a dystopian society fifty yearThis is a sad, but not dysfunctional, depressed but yet hopeful, story of one young girl’s striving for empowerment, in a dystopian society fifty years in the future. It is a world in which every human is electronically programmed by music; everyone must be charged; and the music is individualized and considered treatment. Bridget’s “Playlist Treatment Plan” has never worked for her; it never plays sad music, only upbeat pop with lots of bass and ridiculous lyrics. Finally, when her best friend receives her acceptance to Musicians School, events take a sudden, sharp turn and Bridget decides that empowering herself is the only way she can live....more
A short but poignant story about a young man who has grown up knowing zombies are real, in a future in which any amateur scientists can dial one up, “A short but poignant story about a young man who has grown up knowing zombies are real, in a future in which any amateur scientists can dial one up, “The Boy Who Cried Zombie” will give readers both chuckles and groans. Cute but gory, this story follows Sam and his fiancé Heather on their attempted escape from a new zombie outbreak, not nearly as localized as the Zombie Hotline maintains. The ending has potential as a cliffhanger-and really worrisome....more
Excellently written, finely-detailed, good locale staging, with a keen eye for the horrific as a subtle leaI'd like to give this story about 9 stars!!
Excellently written, finely-detailed, good locale staging, with a keen eye for the horrific as a subtle leading up to the big noise, and that gentle contrast of “everything’s all right” propaganda with the concerns, anxieties, and fears of those in the know, the “old men” who labored in the quarry during its heyday, before its abrupt closure.
I truly loved this book. It’s exciting, well-written, well-characterised. The author doesn’t telegraph the upcoming horror, he just sets out gentle hints which make the reader want to speed on to find out what’s upcoming, and what lay in the past that nobody seems to know about or want to know about. The characterisations are special; for example, Dale, who could have been drawn from life (based on individuals I’ve known). In fact, throughout the story I found it all so realistic that I felt as if I lived right there in town and knew the folks, recognized the settings, and right along with the townspeople, feared and worried about the quarry. This is the kind of novel that just makes me want to keep on reading and never stop; I want it to be a neverending story. ...more
What’s NOT to like? A protagonist that immediately elicits my empathy, a despairing situation for him, a male protagonist at that who has Emotions! MaWhat’s NOT to like? A protagonist that immediately elicits my empathy, a despairing situation for him, a male protagonist at that who has Emotions! Matt is not afraid to own up to his feelings, either; and I liked that because it makes him stand out from the usual crowd. Then in his quest for distraction (and how nice it is that he didn’t run immediately for alcohol, drugs, or promiscuity) he finds himself in the midst of utter terror-I gasped out loud and nearly dropped the laptop!-and again! This is non-stop horror-bizarre, far-fectched, but ultimately realistic (no difficulty suspending disbelief here!)-and the reader is going to sit with jaw dropped, heart pumping out of throat, eyes as wide as saucers-and ears perked for any unusual sounds outside-just in case it’s even more real than we thought.
This story was riveting-I didn’t want to take my eyes off it and railed at every distraction. My reader’s sense is screaming “more! More! More!” I’d say Charlie Morgan is a talent to watch!
Reader Caution: I loved this story but it is gory, graphic, and intense-not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. That said-go get it! ...more
Is praising the cover art of a novel appropriate in a review? Well, I am-because the art of Robin Ludwig Designs is simply stunning, awesome, and trulIs praising the cover art of a novel appropriate in a review? Well, I am-because the art of Robin Ludwig Designs is simply stunning, awesome, and truly gorgeous! That said, let me add, I am so totally glad this is first in a series, and that Book 2 will soon be coming our way! The pacing is very rapid, and the setting reminded me more of fantasy rather than just paranormal. Since there are different species here-vampire, daemon, angel-I think it is not amiss to consider this a fantasy as well. I easily found myself turning the pages without really being aware of doing so, as I was so caught up in the story line. I really enjoyed this juxtaposition of paranormal species, and thought the author marvelously explained the various talents, dissimilarities, and other characteristics of each, building up the background in a subtle way without needing to bludgeon the reader with information. What the reader needs to know about each just flows naturally as part of the plotting and characterization. Intriguingly, there is no question about suspending disbelief; the reader just automatically accepts that here are vampires, over there are daemons, and elsewhere are angels; and that sometimes the groups mix, sometimes not, and then additionally there are humans. Not everyone can carry off this suspension of disbelief but author Edenmary Black does it most excellently. At no time did I need to stop and anchor myself to real life, because I was so engrossed in her story. I’m definitely anticipating Book 2 in this series because I’m sure it will be just as captivating as the first novel....more
Great reader’s hook! I love it-when you read a hook like this, you just know immediately you’ve got a rewarding story to read. Why “rewarding”? BecausGreat reader’s hook! I love it-when you read a hook like this, you just know immediately you’ve got a rewarding story to read. Why “rewarding”? Because sometimes a reader just finds herself glad she picked up a particular story! Maybe it’s inappropriate to chuckle at a dystopian zombie infestation story, but I just couldn’t help myself; the author’s subtle humour is too much not to laugh out loud. His grasp of the social realities of “foreigners” in South Korea is so detailed, it’s easy to imagine oneself in that situation and locale. Another aspect I enjoyed of this novella is the author’s approach to the Zombie situation. Instead of slapping us right away with “hey, these are zombies” type of narrative, he gently allows the information to flow in, or to rise up, like a corpse’s hand might poke up from a rushing river when it’s bumped by a fallen log also floating downstream. Instead of starting with the Zombie problem, he starts with character, and lets that develop first, then subtly weaves in the plot background. That makes for a much better and more appealing approach. The only question this reviewer has is: “Mike, when’s the next story?” ...more
Reader Caution: “The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse” is a glorious romp through the creative fields of imagination of multi-published author Gregory L. NReader Caution: “The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse” is a glorious romp through the creative fields of imagination of multi-published author Gregory L. Norris. However-this is not a short novel to be raced through at the speed of light. This is a story collection to be savoured. It has become trite to specify, “something here for everyone,” yet I say it because I believe it to be true. Any reader who doesn’t find something (or multiple somethings) delectably scary, tantalizing, and horrendous here-is a very jaded reader. Contemporary and historical, social issues or personal trauma, even the extraterrestrial. As I said: something for all. Among my personal first-read favourites were “Dust to Dust,” a narration set in Ancient Egypt; and “Nightmare Near Highway 101,” which has one of the most unutterably terrifying epigrams I’ve ever encountered. But you’ll have your own favourites, these or something else. All readers of this volume will. Just remember what I’ve told you: don’t rush, don’t race (except to buy this collection). This is the kind of set that deserves your reader attention, and by that I mean close and careful attention. Let the story (each and every one) speak directly to you. While reading it, take your time, go slowly-and never, ever, ever, read this at night with the lights turned down low-and never in front of windows!
Mr. Norris is also featured in “Evil Jester Digest Volume One,” as well as many other publications. ...more
The announcement of a new volume or new story collection by Jeremy C. Shipp resonates with the alarum to readers: GET THIS BOOK NOW! Such is true of cThe announcement of a new volume or new story collection by Jeremy C. Shipp resonates with the alarum to readers: GET THIS BOOK NOW! Such is true of collections edited by Author Shipp-and with the addition of the adjective “Attic” in the title, we know we’re in for a fun-house horror ride of epic proportions. Readers who’ve enjoyed the incredible selection of Mr. Shipp’s four volumes of “Attic Clowns” will be pleased as pitch to know that his editorial eye never fails here. 19 stories from divergent accomplished authors, all with that exquisitely horrifying theme: The Attic. How much easier life would be if houses were built differently-no attic, no root cellar, no basement-and especially no closets!
Dare I pick favourites? The very down-home flavor of Emily C. Skaftun’s “Down in the Woods Today” scared the living be-jabbers out of me! I doubt I shall sleep tonight! Joe McKinney’s “A Little Crimson Stain” ran shivers up and down my limbs from the very beginning. These are just two of my personal favourite chillers-but nowhere is there a story not worth the price of admission. Take a cue from this reviewer-you want to be scared-you know you really, really do-so hop on over to your nearest bookselling outlet-and make this a top priority buy. Go on, do it-then curl up and read, while you keep one ear perked for the creaking in your attic, and a sharp eye cocked toward your bedroom door… ...more
A delightful and literate “Note to the Editor” opens the gates to the ten stories contained in this first episode of “Evil Jester Digest.” I very muchA delightful and literate “Note to the Editor” opens the gates to the ten stories contained in this first episode of “Evil Jester Digest.” I very much enjoyed this foreword, but Editor Peter Giglio is accurate when he suggests that readers-mostly-do buy anthologies for the authors and stories. Let me be one of the first to tell you; this is one exceptional selection. Tracy L. Carbone; David Dunwoody; Hollie Snider; Gary Brandner; Rick Hautala; Eric Shapiro; Gregory L. Norris; Phil Hickes; John F. D. Taff; and Aric Sundquist, are the stunners contributing to the excellence of this volume.
From the very first story by Tracy L. Carbone (by page two I thought I’d been kicked in the chest, and literally jumped backwards in shock and surprise, and I’m pretty sure my hair stood to attention the entire duration of the story) right through to the tenth story, Aric Sundquist’s novella, this is extraordinary writing. I don’t want to spoil the extreme pleasure for future readers-but I will say, if you enjoy horror in the slightest, if you have a skewed bone in your body, if you like your terror to creep up on you and scream “Boo” in your ear, if you want horror to sink into your bones and never leave your consciousness-you MUST acquire Evil Jester Digest Volume One. Volume One readily earned its place on my Keeper-Must Reread shelf-and I know it will do so for readers everywhere.
8 stories of horror and the bizarre from the extraordinarily creative (and wild) imagination of accomplished author Gerald Rice are set in apartment v8 stories of horror and the bizarre from the extraordinarily creative (and wild) imagination of accomplished author Gerald Rice are set in apartment venues, where the “normal” frame of reference is turned-on its head, on its side, even reversed. This is apartment living like you’ve never experienced it before.
The very first story, “Slug,” contains one of the best sentences I’ve read in forever, as if author Rice stood inside my mind and perceived life the way I do. If I hadn’t determined some time ago to read everything he writes, I would decide that right now. I’m a convert! The prose, the characterizations, the plotting, the settings, are all delightful-fast-paced, yet the reader will keep pausing to savour, and even reread, some of these excellent sentences. A Gerald Rice story or novel is a joy indeed, a pleasure meant to be sipped at, and never rushed. Every story is an adventure, one from which the reader will return subtly altered, for the better. This short story collection can be perused very quickly-but please don’t: settle in, take your time, enjoy. ...more
“Visions” is the first novel in a trilogy, a delightful and fast-paced read, very realistic in its understanding of the character of a college coed. I“Visions” is the first novel in a trilogy, a delightful and fast-paced read, very realistic in its understanding of the character of a college coed. I found myself chuckling because Holly is such a “natural”-to a point. Holly has a stalker-at least, if this were an ordinary story about an average life, that is what Luke would be. A guy who looks up a student’s cell number, sends he r texts, stations himself outside her dorm, and seems to know her mind before she does (and appears without notice) in most occurrences would be a stalker and the girl would recognize him as such, and either avoid him or even report him. But Luke seems to have a sort of unspoken hypnotic effect on Holly-she just falls right in line with his slightly strange but winning ways. In the context of the novel it makes sense, because suspension of disbelief is so easy.
I also liked the way the author Sara Daniell built up the suspense. Clearly Luke is a man with secrets, urgencies, and needs and intentions that he’s not about to reveal. The characters are drawn very subtly: Holly, the college student, who considers herself to be smart and sensible, even street-smart-yet falls in with the plans of this strange guy she’s just met; and Luke, who definitely has his secrets, and one major issue-he lets himself be ruled by his emotions-walking away from an arranged betrothal; dropping another relationship even though the girl is in love with him, because he doesn’t have any strong feelings for her; then finding and isolating Holly just to “keep her safe.” By building the protagonists with these conflicts, issues, and failing, the author has made them much more realistic and very easy to comprehend as individuals. The story is fast-paced, and I found myself racing through the pages just to see what would occur next. This is a debut novel, and this reviewer anticipates Books 2 and 3 in this series. ...more
I was first introduced to Charity Parkerson’s novels when I went hunting in February 2012 for unread Werewolf & Shapeshifter books, for a group ch I was first introduced to Charity Parkerson’s novels when I went hunting in February 2012 for unread Werewolf & Shapeshifter books, for a group challenge on that enormously creative site, Goodreads. I found Ms. Parkerson’s “Society of Sinners,” and I was floored! If I could have awarded 12 or 13 stars instead of 5, I would have. So I’m enormously pleased to have he r request a review of “A Secure Heart.”
That subtle humour that makes me chuckle at the same time I’m smiling over the characters; those delicate brush strokes painting in the protagonists and the secondaries; that homespun wisdom (feeling beautiful improves one’s perspective and beams through her or his life); all this clues me as to what special author I’m reading. Maybe it’s not etiquette to laugh out loud at a romance-but I can’t help myself. Charity is hilarious! Also touching, heartwarming, special, enjoyable, and A DON’T MISS EVER AUTHOR!
“A Secure Heart” (yes, the title does have resonance in each of the four stories, Gentle Reader) is woven from four divergent but linked stories. Each one is a gem-but if I had to choose a personal favourite, it would be the first and the fourth, which really tugged my own heartstrings. If you enjoy your romance well-plotted, well-characterised, steamy but heart-entangling; if you love good writing, a sense of humour, an author who knows her stuff and knows her readers, RUN, DO NOT STEP, DO NOT WALK, DO NOT WAIT to your nearest available book outlet and GRAB THIS BOOK (and if you haven’t already, get her “Society of Sinners” series too). Face it, Gentle Readers: Charity Parkerson rocks!
When Seraphina Shedd graduates high school, she is handed the keys to her Grandmother’s home. She’d lost her dad when she was ten, rescuing her from hWhen Seraphina Shedd graduates high school, she is handed the keys to her Grandmother’s home. She’d lost her dad when she was ten, rescuing her from her sudden inexplicable disobedience, and was reared by her grandmother until the latter’s death. Now she’s free of the family friend who despises her, but is still fearful of moving on, into the unknown. Unbeknownst to her as yet, Seraphina is venturing into a much greater unknown than just the anxiety of leaving her Bar Harbor high school, of returning alone to her Grandmother’s home, and of finding a career and making her own way through life. For Seraphina Shedd is hardly an ordinary, routine, average, eighteen-year-old graduate. She is a product of the ocean, playing an essential role in the protection of the contemporary marine environment and thus of this planet.
Suspension of disbelief is so realistic in this novel; while the protagonist is thinking, “No, that can’t be,” early on in the story, the reader is thinking instead, “oh yes, it can! That makes such good sense!” That is how very easily the reader is hooked into a tale of the fantastical-it just seems right. Character delineation is very superbly and subtly done; and there is good character evolution, especially in the role of Seraphina, whose life is very unusual, but again, acceptable as real. One of my favourite portions of the novel, in addition to the scene at the swimming pool between Seraphina and her favourite teacher Mrs. Z, was the ending, because author Adrianna Stepiano leaves us simultaneously with a gasp of “What?!” and with a potential cliffhanger that will make readers eager to await the next book in the series. ...more
A catchy reader’s hook, and the protagonist’s jocular but wry sense of humour make for an intriguing beginning. Alexandra is a kind of a misfit, withA catchy reader’s hook, and the protagonist’s jocular but wry sense of humour make for an intriguing beginning. Alexandra is a kind of a misfit, with a longing she keeps repressed for a normal, routine (read simple, average, human) life. Instead, she is a Shepherd-one who tracks and rounds up, not natural wildlife, but preternatural creatures. Outsourcing for the police department’s Special Assignments Unit frequently puts her on the lookout for and trail of what are called “PSKs,” “Preternatural Serial Killers,” who of course are much more effective at achieving high body counts in a shorter time than their human counterparts. It’s dangerous work, but somebody needs to do it. Alexandra complicates matters by living with a pack of preternaturals-not really surprising, since her adoptive family included shifters and vamps…
There is good character evolution in this novel, as Alex grows out of her yearning for normalcy, learns to accept what and who she is and comes to terms with acceptance of her purpose in life. Additionally, author Stacy Mantle doesn’t stop at just the usual run of paranormal encounters, but builds on intriguing layers of suspense, plotting, and wicked characters to place Alexandra right in the center of a web of corruption, which she must unravel, if she can. Even better, the ending is such that a sequel could fit in, yet the reader still feels that the important goals of this novel have been achieved; nothing is left untended. ...more
How many pages did I require to get intrigued in this novel? Only four: when Addisyn decides to give up the book in which she’s engrossed and take a lHow many pages did I require to get intrigued in this novel? Only four: when Addisyn decides to give up the book in which she’s engrossed and take a late-night flight (against rules) with the Angel Link she considers the hottest. Only he’s not-not whom she thinks, I mean-and from then on, I was right with this story. Addisyn has been deceased for two years, and as such she is a Changed angel. Of the five in her Link of Angels, some are Changed, as is she; some are Born. When she is temporarily abducted by the grey-winged Sebastian, she realizes immediately that the Link has been secretive; there’s even more to know about the afterlife than she’s already discovered.
Author Emmalee Aple does a lovely job of building up suspense, of reeling out secrets little by little, like playing out the worm on a fishing line. With each paragraph, the reader wants to find out more, and is more hooked to continue the story. Especially as Addy discovers that her own Link is keeping secrets, and Sebastian lets slip that she may be of more value than she has been informed, the need to expose the secrecy nearly explodes in the reader.
I recommend this novel for YA readers (and fans of YA Paranormal). ...more