Monday, June 27, 2011

Seed by Ania Ahlborn

I read Seed on the recommendation of another author, whose opinion I trust. She said she couldn't put it down and I was looking for a new book to read. So I bought Seed. And it was scary. What is it about small children being involved with evil that just creeps up out? Is it the taking of something that should be innocent and molding it into the ultimate horror that fascinates us? I'm not sure why it's so unnerving, but I will never look at a six year old quite the same again.

Seed deals with some very interesting themes; demonic possession, murder and the idea that possession could be "inherited". I've never seen that particular idea done before. It makes for an engrossing read as you follow a father's quest to save his daughter from an evil he himself wrestled with as a child. The book is filled with some very creepy moments. The psychological horror mounts and the atmosphere is tense. I was (figuratively) on the edge of my seat. The book has some powerful elements.

The writing is well done. The grammatical errors and typos are few, which for me is a big plus! But there were a few more things I would have liked to seen. We're never quite certain just where the demon came from or how the father got past it and lived an almost normal life for several years. There's a bit of ambiguity about how it all got started. And the ending is too quick.

That said, I would still recommend the book. There are enough great elements to more than balance the ambiguity. There are some truly horrific moments, some awesome forethought and an all around creepy vibe. I'm very interested to see what Ania comes up with next.

For fans of movies like The Omen or Case 39, for fans who like creepy children or for those of us who just like to be scared- Seed delivers the chills.

To read an interview with the author, head on over to The Author Spot. This is one lady you're going to want to watch.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Q Word and Other Stories by Richard Lee Byers

I had no idea what to expect when Richard Lee Byers sent me his book. I'd met him on the Masters of Horror Facebook group so I just assumed it was a book of horror stories. I was wrong. While some of the stories straddle the line between horror and fantasy, for the most part, I'd call them fantasy. That is, if I was trying to pigeonhole them, which I'm not. That would do them a great disservice!

I haven't read a lot of fantasy novels or stories recently. Maybe not for several years even. Don't ask why, I have no idea. But I would like to personally thank Mr. Byers for reawakening my interest in the genre. I loved this book. Loved it.

I read a lot of anthologies and short story collections. For one thing, they are easier to fit in at the end of the night then trying to jump back into a novel. Another reason is that I simply admire the short story form. It's not as easy as it looks to get everything you need for your reader to know into fewer words. So I very much admire people who can conquer the form. Richard Lee Byers came, saw & conquered.

The first story is one of my favorites in the book. It's the title story, The Q Word. Honestly, I haven't liked an ogre so much since Shrek. The story is told with wit and humor and had me giggling out loud while trying to guess what would happen next. This story is a new one, written specifically for this book. All of the others have been previously published in various magazines, anthologies or on websites.

My second favorite story is Griefer Madness. I'm not a big gamer myself (I get totally disorientated, scream and shoot my own players), but even I loved the description of the game in this story. It showcases the talent it takes to be a good gamer and has a happy ending.

Black is a story for cat lovers like myself, while Things I Learned About Science from Popular Entertainment is a witty essay that will leave you laughing. There was not one story in the entire collection that I didn't enjoy reading. I gobbled them up like a chocoholic with a Hershey bar.

So thumbs way way up on this delightful collection. Get a copy today. You won't be sorry! Don't forget to check out my interview with Richard Lee Byers over at The Author Spot.

Happy Reading,

Monday, June 13, 2011

Undead of Winter: An Extreme Zombie Release

I first heard about this book on the Masters of Horror Facebook group. If you are a horror writer and you haven't joined this group yet, I highly recommend it. I heard about the book in posts from several of the members who have stories included in the book. I was excited for them and excited to read the book. So I bought it for my Kindle. And later Armand and I got to talking and I offered to review it here.

The book was published by Rymfire Ebooks ( a small indie publisher), you can visit them at their website, and edited by Armand Rosamilia. You can read my interview with Armand over at The Author Spot. Undead of Winter contains nine horrifying tales of Zombies and frigid conditions. I was very interested in the book because Sean and I often discuss what would happen to zombies in the winter time? Would it slow them down? Nine authors attempt to answer that question...

Armand not only edited and published the book, he also wrote the first story, Undead of Winter. The story centers around a character, Darlene Bobich, that he's written about in other stories. Darlene is one tough chick, but then you have to be when you're kicking Zombie butts! The thing is- even tough girls have a soft spot. That soft spot can get you into trouble. Armand's story is a great read. I'm going to have to look up the other stories and see what else Darlene has been up to.

The other stories are written by Brent Abell, Suzanne Robb, Jonah Buck, R.S. Pyne, Tim Lieder, Blaze McRob, Lisa McCourt Hollar and Carole Gill. As with any anthology, some of the stories are better than others. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Second Wave by Lisa McCourt Hollar. The story is well written, action packed and the idea is completely original. It was unlike any zombie story I've ever read. But on the whole, Undead of Winter delivers. Each of the stories differs enough to keep you interested and to not make you feel as if you're reading the same thing over and over. Each author has their own unique approach to the material.

I would recommend the book to anyone who loves Zombie fiction, anthologies or short stories. The really awesome thing about anthologies like this one is that you get to taste several new authors at once, almost like a box of chocolates. If you find one you like, you can look up their other work, check out their blogs and generally support their efforts in any way you can.

Happy Reading,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Twilight Candleflies by Scott Niven

Today's review makes me happy. You know, the kind of happy you get when you find a new author that you adore, that you simply must by all of their books? That's what happened when I found Scott Niven. I bought one of his three books and then went back and purchased the others because I couldn't get enough. That was at the $1.99 price. Lucky for you, they are now on sale for just $.99 each!

Scott's work is hard to pigeonhole. Its a mix of scifi, fantasy and horror. Each story like a Twilight Zone episode. It was hard to pick which book to review because I loved them all equally. I finally decided on Twilight Candleflies because I love apocalyptic fiction. The first story, The Last School of Humanities, is about a woman trying to go on with life after the end of the world. She's made a home, a garden and taken in orphans. Its a solitary life but it suits her fine. Unfortunately, you can't just shut the world out and not all survivors are as peaceful as she.

The next story, This Is Not Your Mother's Earth, explores a common theme- a matriarchal society and men's role in such. I can't decide if this is a man's worst nightmare or every man's dream. The last story in this collection is Five Minutes for the World. What happens when the one thing you look forward to for a year doesn't pan out? How far will you go to get another chance? And what happens when you find out things aren't what they seem?

Each of Scott's three books contain three stories. Each is well worth the read. He reminds me a bit of Ray Bradbury. And each story is like a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits/Night Gallery episode. I can't wait to read what he comes out with next!

Also, I'd like to throw some kudos to his girlfriend, Amy Jo Martin, who did his amazing cover art. I understand that all three pictures were taken from a larger painting she did for Scott. It can be viewed as the header on his website. If you enjoy the cover art, you can visit her Etsy store here:

That's all for today folks, but please jaunt on over to The Author Spot for an interview with Scott Niven and more links to his work!

Happy Reading,