I rated it 3 stars instead of higher because it's just so short. it does read like a book opening, and I would have kept reading. the prose is a nice...moreI rated it 3 stars instead of higher because it's just so short. it does read like a book opening, and I would have kept reading. the prose is a nice mix of vivid and momentum.(less)
Zombie Hospital is a snarky short story about a pair of nurses at a low-quality hospital struggling to deal with a zombie uprising. It's a fun read, b...moreZombie Hospital is a snarky short story about a pair of nurses at a low-quality hospital struggling to deal with a zombie uprising. It's a fun read, but abbreviated, like the opening chapter of a longer tale. There is a lot of zombie material out there, but this one is solid and funny and worth the $.99 for budding ebook collections. Contains: Violence, Language(less)
With a plethora of both zombie fiction and self-published author samplers popping up it's often hard to cut through the chaff to get to the good stuff...moreWith a plethora of both zombie fiction and self-published author samplers popping up it's often hard to cut through the chaff to get to the good stuff. Dead Girl's Blog is the good stuff. Two emotionally satisfying tales of zombies that don't have to resort to the weary format of plucky survivors getting picked off one at a time. These characters stand off the page, reaching out and giving an often-missing soul to zombie stories.
There's only two short stories here, Dead Girl's Blog and Under a Blanket of Blue. But it's a perfect short read for those looking for a distraction in a waiting room, or before bed or on a car or plane trip. Highly recommended for quality and tasty pricing. (And the indie format is more lending-friendly for libraries looking to build an electronic collection.) Contains: Language, sex, violence(less)
Fast-paced and stylistically intense, An Occupation of Angels is pseudo-paranormal spy story set in a world where angels came to Earth ending World Wa...moreFast-paced and stylistically intense, An Occupation of Angels is pseudo-paranormal spy story set in a world where angels came to Earth ending World War II. Killarney is a secret agent first assigned to assassinate an archangel, then tasked with discovering who's really behind the systematic slaying of the angels of the world. Could it be Nazis?
Tidhar's style is urgent and wickedly ironic. This is a religious study with little religion, a spy story with Nazi conspiracies, but not like the other books on the shelf. One can't help thinking Killarney herself is something different too, as they travel through her head in this world-spanning short novel. An Occupation of Angels is a great, vivid story perfect for libraries looking for something unique. It's taste won't be up all readers alley's, but it's a standout example of fantasy fiction. Contains: violence(less)
Allegiance to a Dead Man is a fun novelette about a modern woman who finds herself in a position to save someone who's already dead and (maybe) the wh...moreAllegiance to a Dead Man is a fun novelette about a modern woman who finds herself in a position to save someone who's already dead and (maybe) the whole city of San Francisco. There's a touch of the The Crow's morbidity and a touch of Terry Pratchett's Discworld policy on magic (especially books like Hogfather). The spirits keep the memories alive and remembering keeps the spirits alive. It's part urban legend and part sweet remembrance story.
Allegiance is a good, fast read, especially suited to San Franciscans or ghost story fans. (less)
Sara M. Harvey's novella trilogy is part urban fantasy and part steampunk. Featuring angels, demons and nephilim with surprising little religious content, Labyrinth of the Dead strikes at the same chord as Dante's Inferno. Warrior heroine Portia travels physically to the underworld to reclaim the spirit of her lover Imogen, whose body still lives in the upper worlds. But there are those to seek to use Imogen as a gateway to the living world.
Portia traveling bodily to the Netherworld puts her at great risk, because, as she learns, typically the spawn of celestials and humans by nature go to better afterlifes. But here Portia will learn the truth about her divine heritage, about what becomes of souls when the body dies and she'll face an old enemy and new betrayers in her quest to be with Imogen.
Harvey's world is rich for being so brief. Her vivid mix of technology and magic is appealing to fans of steampunk and urban fantasy. At its core Labyrinth of the Dead is a timeless love story, tapping into legends like Orpheus (if, instead of being a pied piper of the dead Orpheus magicked his way to the underworld, often with his own blood). Harvey's tale is a stand out in the science fiction/fantasy field for it's uniqueness and it's quiet, determined strength of storytelling. Here Portia, and Harvey, aren't content to let the tale unfold, but instead forge the fiction world into something powerful and enjoyable for readers.(less)
Boaz is a gay teen whose family has a deep secret—they're the protectors of a shard of the temple of King Solomon. Now that his uncle is dead, his fa...more
Boaz is a gay teen whose family has a deep secret—they're the protectors of a shard of the temple of King Solomon. Now that his uncle is dead, his family is falling apart and Boaz must learn to step up and save them all. As I Embrace My Jagged Edges is a vivid, beautiful tale that's just too short. Thompson jerks readers around on silken strings in a rare piece of fiction that explores both the Hebrew and gay identities. Furthermore its a powerful horror tale, a unique trifecta for sure. While its length and ebook only (at the moment) format limit its value to public collections which might not be making the ebook transition, I definitely recommend this tale to horror readers, especially those hungering for minority points of view. Contains: violence(less)
From the first sentence this novella, a love song to revenge and the ultimate body modification, drew me in and made...moreI was given this book for review.
From the first sentence this novella, a love song to revenge and the ultimate body modification, drew me in and made me wholly its. Poetically written full of rich description, without flabbiness,bb and pitch perfect emotional threads it’s the kind of story I wish I’d written first.
The Dreadful Doctor Faust focuses on Louise, a woman raped, shattered and left for dead outside an abandoned church, who is rescued by a mysterious stranger who lives below the city. While The Doctor is a genius, and amazingly compassionate, he’s also more than a mad scientist, he’s a twisted, sadistic creature with more heart than some super heroes.
This is a twisted love story, among other things. A stunning read, Koehler’s language makes it impossible to look away, impossible to not bring this wicked, sinister world to life inside the reader’s mind. Highly recommended for horror fans, a do not miss of 2011 for sure.(less)
An Agreement with Hell is an early comer in the new Biblical-mythos trend in fiction. Pagliassotti pits an aging priest, an aging Christian magician (...moreAn Agreement with Hell is an early comer in the new Biblical-mythos trend in fiction. Pagliassotti pits an aging priest, an aging Christian magician (in the Solomon sense) and a Walker Between Worlds (think a magical version of Neo. He sees reality different than others and can use the doorways between worlds) against, not demons, but creatures outside our dimension. These leviathans are summoned to a college campus when, of course, the seal holding them back is broken. From there Agreement is a voyage in shattered or horrific landscapes, where even the angels are creatures humans would not want to meet. The concept of Pagliassotti's world is interesting, and that the "bad guys" aren't the demons or the angels is wryly amusing in a very bibical-themed tale. But about halfway through the book character advancement seems to just stop and what started as an interesting mystery jumps into standard horror novel fare. The addition of ineffective characters stumbling their way to heroism, and worse, the climactic scene of the whole book being told from the point of view of a character who not only has no clue about the mythos behind the story, but also cannot perceive the magic battle going on, just leaves a taste of ineffective storytelling in reader mouths. Given the stellar opening I just expected more out of the second half of the book than what was delivered. Fans of unique horror and those fascinated by the juxtaposition of religion and horror will find this book to their tastes. Its place in libraries is difficult to determine. The subject matter makes it likely fuel for certain censor-happy types who will not appreciate the dark side of Christian legends. Also if angels and demons are what readers want there are better stories out there, such as the Hellblazer graphic novel series.
Better Off Alone is definitely a horror bite, clocking in at about 40 pages, that flirts with the idea of a good stor...moreReviewed for MonsterLibrarian.com
Better Off Alone is definitely a horror bite, clocking in at about 40 pages, that flirts with the idea of a good story more than delivering it. Set in a post zombie uprising world, the main character Nell escapes her basement stronghold after an attack and stumbles into a band a survivors with a dark secret. She wants to rescue Todd, the man who kept her hopes up over the last month through email, but first she has to survive her rescuers. Better Off Alone is ultimately incomplete. There are many potentially interesting things mentioned, but then abandoned, and even the description and storytelling itself feels unfinished. Sfetsos flirts with a good story here, but doesn't quite deliver. As for it's place in collections, those libraries with booming digital collections and lendings might find this tale popular, especially if zombie stories are in high demand as well. But if not then it's best to wait for Sfetsos's next published work, of which there will no doubt be more. Contains: some gore(less)
If Lovecraft lived in the deep south he might have come up with something like Jars in the Cellar. This very short (...moreReviewed for MonsterLibrarian.com
If Lovecraft lived in the deep south he might have come up with something like Jars in the Cellar. This very short (about 30 pages) tale starts familiarly enough, with a high powered, rich city guy trapped in hillbilly country by car troubles and put at the mercy of a backwoods witch, a mysterious man with a huge secret and their genetic monster of a child. But the outcome isn't what one might expect at first. While this is an enjoyable read through and through, and even plays on readers' own preconceived expectations from previous pop culture exposures to the set up, it's a very short, very fast read. Just the kind of thing to make a doctor's office wait or even a boring movie more enjoyable, but for the purposes of this site, its value to a public collection is questionable, unless the library is actively acquiring and lending in digital form.(less)
I have a mental list of movies I've seen, and I don't regret seeing them, but I never want to see them again. What Dreams May Come, Philadelphia, A.I...more I have a mental list of movies I've seen, and I don't regret seeing them, but I never want to see them again. What Dreams May Come, Philadelphia, A.I and Funny Games all have their places on this list. Slowly I'm forming a list of books that I've enjoyed and would recommend, but never I want to read again. Devil's Marionette by Maurice Broaddus is definitely edging its way onto this list. There's nothing technically wrong with this novella about the cast of a black skit show/sitcom descending into madness. The characters are raw, pain-filled and clear and the story itself is unfurled with the casual unstopablility of an oncoming freight train. But there's a weight here that threatens to crush the reader as well as the characters. Broaddus's novella starts right at the end of things and offers little in the way of background, or explanation, instead focusing on each individual breakdown of an otherwise talented and intelligent black cast. The crew aren't being crushed by the white network bigwig (despite his efforts at dominating them), though, it's their own connection to parasitic performers of the past that pulls them into more than personal darkness. Here it feels like the odds are so astoundingly set against them that defying the curse of the black performer is like trying to defy the laws of physics. Yet despite this immersive, and painfully open experience of being each character as hundreds of years of hatred and racism crushes down on them, the reader is left with the same feeling as someone who witnesses something beautiful or terribly in a quiet woods. It's almost as if this pain is clear and known, but we are not supposed to speak of it, or even admit that we know it's there. The aura or spirit of this book far out shadows the actual story within the pages. It's left me feeling not thrilled, or entertained, but uneasy, a perfect tone for a horror novella to strike, but one not that makes experiencing it an entirely pleasant experience.(less)
Thin Them Out is short, tight chapbook that doesn't so much tell a story, as set up two sides of a story.
On one hand you have the survivors of an unex...moreThin Them Out is short, tight chapbook that doesn't so much tell a story, as set up two sides of a story.
On one hand you have the survivors of an unexplained zombie apocalypse, wound tight, desperate and ready to snap, no longer able to see whether the danger comes from the walking dead or the living around them.
On the other hand you have a most remarkable zombie whose thoughts and worries go beyond food and danger into places that are simplistically beautiful.
A fast read, buying a copy of Thin them Out is an easy, enjoyable way to support the small press.(less)
"I am Portia Gyony," she repeated, and the world bent slightly around the edges.
What would it be like to witness a battle between celestial beings? S...more "I am Portia Gyony," she repeated, and the world bent slightly around the edges.
What would it be like to witness a battle between celestial beings? Sort of like The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey. Portia is a demon hunter and a Nephilim, a descendant of human and angel. Still mourning the death of her lover Imogen, yet protected by the ghost of Imogen, Portia is trying to complete her training to become a full member of the Gyony (demon hunter Nephilim as opposed to magic user or necromancer Nephilim) community.
Instead she is pulled into a plot to over throw the Primacy, the ruling council of the Nephilim, by a dark-hearted sect of necromancers, one of which helped her keep Imogen at her side after her tragic death. Portia isn't just a tool in the necromancer plot, she is the plot, one of the rare "Pure Bloods", a direct child of an angel and human.
The Convent of the Pure is a fast paced dark fantasy with steampunk elements. The world is rich and enticing, the only real flaw is it's short length. The world really could support a full length book, if not a series as Portia and Imogen are engaging, their romance a sweet up point against the dark tenseness of the world setting. Portia is strong without being snarky or bitchy. There's no stress over her ability to "hang with the boys", no real issue of gender roles at all, which is refreshing. The action is large scale and satisfying without being too easy or overwhelming.
Overall The Convent of the Pure is an excellent, enjoyable tale sure to appeal to readers of dark fantasy, urban fantasy and even paranormal romance.(less)
Part 5: Revelations, is a disappointing end to the Losing Latitude tale, mostly because it’s not an end at all. Like the four parts before it this one...morePart 5: Revelations, is a disappointing end to the Losing Latitude tale, mostly because it’s not an end at all. Like the four parts before it this one features Buck and Lilly. The former is a young adult running from his past. The later, a woman freed from her parents, after long last and through tragedy. We also revisit October, Nina, Rufus and learn of even more players coming to light.
In fact this installment is so packed full of expansion and plot building that it’s impossible to accept the scripted “The End” on the last page. With Lilly just getting out of the naval hospital where she’s spent nearly the whole story, and Buck just now finding something and someone he cares about enough to stop running away from all his problems, the story is prepared to do so much more. We finally see a bad guy, other than the nameless demon that Buck claims is pursuing him. We finally know the extent and “rules” of the paranormal aspects of the book and everything seems to be poised to come together, or clash as a climax should.
Except that’s where this story ends, flat on its face with the truly exciting and satisfactory bits just out of reach.(less)
I really enjoy rereading Ann Rice's The Witching Hour over and over. But I rarely read the whole book. Instead I always skip to the middle, to the long, expansive Talamasca file on the History of the Mayfair witches. I don't particularly like Rowan Mayfair and find her story to be interesting only because of the multitude of little connections between the history of the places and people that came before that she runs into and doesn't even understand.
What does this have to do with part four of Losing Latitude by Cory Cramer? With this part the story is shaping up the same way.
Part four, The Last Place to Run, is almost entirely sections of Bucky McGee's journal. Of course, in this installment they take a wild, suspenseful twist that still doesn't explain the demon that's been chasing him. But by the end of this section the tale is hard to put down, and leaves the reader with something akin to outrage. It simply cannot end there.
As for Lilly, the young adult who lost her parents to a shipwreck and became an unexpected millionaire, well, she has about as much "screen time" as her dead father in this part of the story. She's not as unsympathetic of a character as I find Rowan Mayfair to be, but the focus so far is on the voice of Buck. This is partly because for the length of the tale so far Lilly has been in a naval hospital recovering from injuries received during the shipwreck that killed her parents. But it's also because with her parents dead only the journal can drive the plot forward toward its resolution.
I do wonder how one more ninety five page installment can bring Lilly from her current position to solving the mystery that led her father to sail into the storm rather than away from it. But there has definitely been growth, not just of the story, but also of Cramer's writing skills as the story has progressed. If he can clinch this tale, and continues to build his craft I could easily see his next stories published outside the sphere of self-publishing. (less)
Part Two, subtitled “The Past Comes Back to Haunt Us”, continues exactly where the first part leaves off. Lilly North is in a Naval hospital recoverin...morePart Two, subtitled “The Past Comes Back to Haunt Us”, continues exactly where the first part leaves off. Lilly North is in a Naval hospital recovering from the tragic storm that took her parent’s lives. While she’s only “on screen” long enough to remind readers that she’s still the main character it’s enough to keep all the flashbacks in context. Keeping track of the real focus of the story is important because they are a lot of flashbacks in this part of Losing Latitude.
Most of the story is told through the journal of Buck, a teenager who is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. But what cop would believe Buck’s take on the slaying–a demon did it? While Buck’s story starts out as a somewhat selfish, hormone-infused tale Cramer works Buck into a solid, sympathetic, if not somewhat likable character.
Between the passages of Buck’s journal are flashbacks from the point of view of Lilly’s father, Brady. The answers to why Brady steered his family into the storm are answered, and in a way that piques the reader’s interest in the supernatural aspects of the tale.
However, the story still doesn’t feel like a paranormal. While the demon might make a real appearance it’s brief and its connections to Brady and Lilly are little more than implied.
The back story might throw some readers off at this point. But it does serve to expand the characters and to tie together many of the strings that began in the first part. By the end of Part two the reader has the definite feel that something bad is about to happen.