Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taste by Allison M. Dickson

I'll be honest--I had a hard time deciding which of Allison M. Dickson's works to review. So I'm going to do three of the short stories. I haven't dived into the novels yet, I'm savoring the anticipation. You know, like when you're waiting for a particularly good movie to come out and you keep watching the trailers until you just can't wait for the movie to release? What? I can't be the only one who does that... I interviewed Allison over at The Author Spot. If you'd like to read that first, go ahead, I'll wait. No, not patiently. Duh. Back? Okay, great, moving on. I downloaded a few of Ms. Dickson's short stories a while back while they were free (several of them still are. Start here and download till your heart's content).

I decided to go with Taste because it was the first of her stories I'd read. And can I just say it gobsmacked me? I thought I'd read everything; I was jaded, nothing new to shock me. And yet, it did. The idea was just so blatantly weird and repulsive. But it stuck with me. And I thought, if one short story has this kind of power--what are the others like? I was not let down.

Next, I read A Debacle of Donuts. Why? Because what could be scary about donuts? And let me just say  I was indeed, almost terrified something would be scary about donuts, thus ruining one of my favorite treats. After that first story, I wasn't putting anything past Allison. Luckily, it's not the donuts themselves that are scary in this story. What is scary is how far we'll go to achieve what we want without having to work for it. The idea behind the story was clever, and intriguing. But what really grabbed me, was how Allison got inside my head. Yep, I could totally picture myself in the main character, no problem. And there were some hard truths pointed out. I finished the story a little shell shocked and deep in thought.

And then I read Liar's Tongue. I'm pretty sure it should be passed out to anyone thinking of running for office in the future. We might weed a few out with this one. At least those with enough sense to heed the warning. Again, the story was fresh and interesting and I eagerly turned pages. After three stories, I was hooked. I'm an Allison M. Dickson fan for life.

The good news for me? She's got a new novel coming out soon. Along with the few things of hers I haven't read yet. The good news for some of you? You still have all of her work to discover. Go forth and enjoy. I know I will. And then I'll continue thinking about her stories, long after I'm done reading. That, my friends, is the greatest compliment I can give any writer.

Happy Reading,
♥Spot

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Afterbirth by Belinda Frisch

Having read the first book in The Strandville Zombie series, Cure, I was more than anxious to crack open a copy of the sequel, second book in the series, Afterbirth. So when Belinda offered me a copy as a Beta reader, I was thrilled. And then I was amazed. All too often, a sequel doesn't live up to the original. But that was not the case with Afterbirth.

Afterbirth picks up months after Cure left off, but with no feeling of having missed something. And perhaps that's because the author drops us right into the action. We understand that due to events in the first book, the zombie apocalypse is a reality. And we figure our characters have been too busy trying to survive to have done anything significant. But now, they're getting used to dealing with zombies, and must go back to fighting a more pervasive evil--man, one man in particular--Dr. Nixon. Knowing there is still a good possibility his experiments worked with Miranda, and that her baby could offer a cure for not only the zombie plague, but cancer, he's searching for her. And so is Reid, the number one henchman who fell from Nixon's good graces by letting Miranda get away. (Not that he meant too, mind you.)

Miranda and husband Scott are trying to survive both the apocalypse, Miranda's pregnancy, and the imminent delivery. In desperation, they turn to their ex friend and doctor--Michael Waters. Events take place which gather everyone once more at the Nixon Medical Center and a thrilling climax ensues. And lest you wonder about other characters from the first book, many of them are present in the sequel (some only briefly): Allison, Zach, Foster, Carlene, Penny, John, and Frank.

I don't generally read zombie fiction. I like zombies, don't get me wrong, I love zombie movies, love The Walking Dead, like teasing about the imminent zombie apocalypse, but I'm not necessarily a fan of zombie literature. The reason being it's pretty rare to come across something original in the field. Zombies happen, people fight them, and more of the same. The reason I like this series so much is because the idea behind the zombie plague is different, and the story isn't so much about the zombies; sure, they're in there and they ramp up the danger, but the story is really about the characters. And that's what makes it come alive for me. I care about these people. And I'd care about them in any situation, not just when they're fighting zombies and hiding from crazed scientists.

So, even if zombies aren't your thing, give this series a try. Afterbirth is well written, fast paced, character rich, plot driven, and action packed. Really, what more can you ask for in a book?

You can read my review of the first Strandville Zombie book, Cure, here.

You can purchase the book at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. It's available in all eBook formats and will soon be coming to print.

Visit Belinda's Amazon author page here. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Happy Reading,
♥Spot

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales

I met Fran Friel at KillerCon in Vegas this year. And she's a very special person. She's also a fantastic author. If you'd like to learn more about her, you can head over to The Author Spot and check out the interview I did with her for today's post.

But let's get right to the book. Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales is Fran's first short story collection. Mama's Boy was originally published as a novella. The collection made it to the final ballot for The Bram Stoker Awards in 2008. The original novella was a finalist in 2006. Those of you who are horror fans will know what an amazing accomplishment that is!

Synopsis: Nothing good comes of the closest ties in Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales, the new collection from Fran Friel and Apex Publications. Things can go especially awry when the tie in question is the one binding mother and son. This collection contains 14 tales, including the Stoker Award nominated novella "Mama's Boy."

The synopsis is short and sweet and doesn't give away anything good. And there's a whole lot of good in this collection. My personal favorite is probably the darkest story in the book: "Special Prayers." This story is about Mama, from "Mama's Boy." And gives us a glimpse into how she got to be the way she is. It's everything a horror story should be; shocking, dark, horrific and yet encapsulated into only four pages.

My second favorite story was "Fine Print." It's a longer story, and maybe a little slow moving for some, but for me, the pace was just right. There were a lot of details to soak up and I enjoyed having the time to do so, with no rush to the conclusion of the story. The story paints a picture of a world where clairvoyant dreamers are used to a very bad end.

The book is filled with other stories, some very short, and poems, plus the novella which lends the book its name. There's not a single story or poem I didn't enjoy. And many of them left me rolling the idea around in my head for days afterward. "Don't look under the dryer." "How glad am I that I don't have a Siamese twin?" "Potatoes!"And many other strange thoughts that you'll only appreciate after you read the book. Which I highly recommend you do.

The introduction is written by Gary A. Braunbeck and captures the essence of Fran and the book very well. If you enjoy short stories, if you aren't afraid of the dark, and if you've ever wondered what lives under your dryer, look up Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel. Then read at your own risk. You can purchase the book here.

This blog is not technically part of the Coffin Hop. But since I'm feeling generous today, any comments left on this post will get you an entry into my contests over at The Author Spot.

Happy Reading,
♥Spot

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cure by Belinda Frisch

It's not often that I read zombie fiction, even though I'm a die hard fan of AMC's The Walking Dead. I love to talk about zombies and the impending apocalypse. But it's so hard to find zombie fiction that doesn't fall flat or suffer from "same zombie s**t, different day." You know what I mean? But when Belinda posted a bit of her novel on her website, I checked it out. And I was hooked. So I was more than happy to read it and do a review. You can find the book, Cure, at Amazon.com. It's also available in print.

Synopsis:
Welcome to the Nixon Healing and Research Center, playground for the maniacal Dr. Howard Nixon whose cancer research has him dabbling in the undead. When he kidnaps the wrong test subject, Miranda Penton, a rescue team releases more than the captive women. It unleashes a lethal infection which turns its victims into mindless, flesh-hungry mob. Inseminated with a zombie fetus, Miranda wrestles with an uncertain fate while trying to get away with her life.

The virus is spreading and must be contained. The center is going into lock-down. The group's get away is threatened by a homicidal security guard and a raging storm. The town of Strandville is ground zero for the zombie apocalypse and Miranda must escape because the fate of humanity lies with her unborn child.

What happens when you inject zombie sperm into healthy women of child bearing age? (And who would do that?! Dr. Nixon must be a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein) Well, the results are as disturbing, horrifying, and disastrous as you imagined. Add in an interesting cast of characters: likable good guys, a strong female heroine, and some vicious and deranged villains and you've got yourself one hell of a novel.

The novel starts out with a bang--we jump right into the action--and it never relents. I read this book in one sitting because I couldn't stop saying to myself, "just one more page." The next thing you know I'm resembling a zombie myself the next morning. This book is very well written, fast paced, and complexly plotted, with excellently developed characters. Combine that with a cliffhanger ending, and you'll be asking when the next book in the series comes out.

I would recommend this book to any fan of zombie fiction, zombie movies, or anyone who likes a fast paced read with just enough scientific explanation to make you wonder, "what if?"

You can read an interview with Belinda Frisch over at The Author Spot.

♥Spot

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dark Reality by Billie Sue Mosiman

I met Billie Sue through-- wait for it, you know it's coming-- Facebook. And let me just tell you that she is a dear, sweet woman. And even though she's been writing horror for 30 years, won multiple awards, and then launched a successful self publishing career, she remains friendly and approachable, eager to help her fellow authors. And that is why I wanted to read and review one of her many works. I also interviewed her and you can read that over at The Author Spot. Make sure you do stop by over there so that you can soak up some of Billie's wisdom.

It happens to be Billie's birthday tomorrow, but instead of waiting for us to shower her with gifts, she decided to gift us instead. She has a large variety of books, novels, shorts, and collections available for kindle for free until June 5th. Why yes, I will wait while you go get you some! Back? Good. I decided to read and review Dark Reality, a short story. On with the review~

Book Synopsis:

From the mind that gave you Edgar nominated Night Cruising and Banished, comes a tale of terror where an alternate reality keeps intruding.

Have you ever walked into a room and felt you had left something in one place, but now it is in another? Have you driven down a street or road you know well where houses and buildings and stores seem a little different from your memory of them? Have you ever felt reality slipping...just a little bit?

In Dark Reality, Lane believes his brother died in Iraq as a Marine, but one day he's back again and several things about the world are different. Buildings in town are changed. The woman his brother was married to is now Lane's girlfriend. And there's a gun in a cabinet that before never existed--neither the cabinet nor the gun. Lane needs to stop his world from shifting reality around him. And he needs, desperately, to keep his brother alive now that reality has given him a second chance...

My Review:

Honestly, I loved this story. The concept of alternate realities is by no means new, but the idea that you could just shift, without any warning, is new. And that's what happens to Lane. Subtle things begin to change-- a missing beer bottle here, a new cabinet there-- and Lane's the only one who knows that things are wrong. But he takes it in stride (what choice does he have, really?) and tries to save the life of the brother, who in his original reality is dead. But can you change the course of fate? Is fate universal to all realities? Interesting questions posed by the story.

I wish the story had been longer. That would be my one complaint. Maybe we could have answered those questions, instead of leaving me to ponder them, kind of obsessively. But then again, I always think the mark of a good book is if I'm still thinking about it days later. And I am.

So I'm giving this one five stars. I really enjoyed it. And I wish Billie Sue a happy birthday tomorrow and many more to come. And I recommend you grab this story while it's free and then collect the others.

♥Spot

Thursday, February 16, 2012

And the winners are...

Blaze McRob and Wendy Howard. Bryan and Ruth will be sending you fine folks their respective books in the format of your choice! I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did! Thanks for playing along!

♥Spot

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Base Spirits by Ruth Barrett

Hey hey hey! It's still blog hop time! That means that today is yet another chance for you to be a winner. And today's prize is donated by the lovely Ruth Barrett, who's book, Base Spirits, I'm reviewing today. One lucky winner will receive an eCopy of this book, format of their choice. For those of you who didn't follow this blog yesterday, please do so today in order to be entered to win. Also, you must leave a comment. For those of you already following, please leave a comment in order to be entered to win. And if you'd like a bonus chance at winning, head over to my other blog, The Author Spot, and follow me there. If you are headed over there and you wish to read an interview with the lovely Ms. Barrett, click this link. Now on with the review!

Synopsis:
'Murder has took this chamber with full hands
And will ne’er out as long as the house stands.’
~A Yorkshire Tragedy, Act I, Sc. v

In 1605, Sir Walter Calverley’s murderous rampage leaves a family shattered. The killer suffers a torturous execution… but is it truly the end? A noble Yorkshire house stands forever tarnished by blood and possessed by anguished spirits.

Some crimes are so horrific, they reverberate through the centuries.

As an unhappy modern couple vacation in the guesthouse at Calverley Old Hall, playwright Clara, and her scholar husband, Scott, unwittingly awaken a dark history. Clara is trapped and forced back in time to bear witness to a family’s bloody saga. Overtaken by the malevolent echoes, Scott is pushed over the edge from possessive husband to wholly possessed…

Inspired by a true-life drama in Shakespeare’s day, this is itself a play within a play: a supernatural thriller with a historical core.

Only one player can survive.

I can't say enough good things about this book. It grabbed me from the beginning and sucked me in to the story. Ruth Barrett weaves an incredible tale of suspense and horror and tragedy. The events of the past are rendered in truly aching detail, it's obvious she's done her historical homework. Your heart will ache for the players in this tragedy of days gone by.

The modern part of the book is also painstakingly real. From Clara's fear and feelings of isolation, to her husband's jealous and possessive rages, the emotions ring clear and true. The book really picks up speed and rushes torwards the inevitable trainwreck where past meets present in a tragic climax.

Honestly, there wasn't anything I didn't enjoy about this book. Since I'm hesitant to give out five star reviews (they're flung out so willy nilly these days that who really believes them?), I'm definitely giving this one a ringing four star recommendation. Anyone who enjoys history, ghosts, possessions, England, or horror in general, is going to enjoy this book. I don't know how many people know who Barbara Erskine is, but her novels are what this book put me in mind of. And I'm a huge Barbara Erskine fan. Which makes me a huge Ruth Barrett fan.

So, enter the contest, win this book! And if you don't win-- you should just buy it. Well worth your time and money.

Happy Reading,
♥Spot