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!


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!

'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,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whispers from the Dark by Bryan Hall

Hello boys and girls! It's blog hop time again and this time it's Vamplit Publishing's Bloody Hearts Valentine Blog Hop. Click on the picture in the sidebar and it will take you to a list of all the participating blogs. And you know what participating blogs means? Contests! Contests to win all sorts of great prizes. To enter my contest, become a follower of this blog and leave a comment (if you are already a follower- a comment will suffice). Bryan has graciously donated an eBook (format of your choice) of Whispers in the Dark to my contest winner.

I met Bryan through Facebook and he asked for a review. You know me- I never turn down a collection of short stories, or any book, EVER. So, of course, I agreed. Bryan also agreed to an interview, so you can read more about this fascinating author over at The Author Spot. Did I mention its also part of the blog hop, so there is a contest for free books there as well? I thought that would get your attention!

On with the review. Synopsis says: What if your hometown hid a terrible secret?

What if the vintage LP you brought home was more than just a record?

What if your neighbor's pond held an evil only you knew about?

What if your dying daughter's only hope lay in a strange shack deep within the Appalachian wilderness?

This collection of fourteen short stories from the author of Containment Room Seven asks those questions and many more. You won't find vampires or zombies here - only pure, dark, unrelenting terror on every page.

"...This guy is scary good!" - Joe McKinney, Stoker nominated author of Quarantine, Flesh Eaters, and Apocalypse of the Dead

"A horror master's sense of scene and scares." - Jonathan Moon, author of Heinous

"... dark, fast and fun...a compelling read." - Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Sparrow Rock, The Reach, and StarCraft Ghost: Spectres, on Hall's novel Containment Room Seven

Now the problem I find with short story collections is that you are most probably never going to like all the stories in the book. Even in a King collection, I find a story or two that misses its mark. (I know-- blasphemy!) And that was the case with this collection.

The first story, Secrets Beneath, was worth the price of admission. It's a unique take on the small town with closely guarded secret tale. It reminded me, in a good way, of 1950's horror movies- I could almost see it in black and white. But the story is original, has good depth, and some tragic consequences.

Another tale I liked was Throwing Stones. It had a creepy build-up and a surprising ending, not what I expected at all. One more hit was The Swim. This one had a moral and a lesson to it. And Kudzu, was another tale I enjoyed. And then there were a few I wasn't so fond of. All in all, there are fourteen stories in the book. A decent number for the price and we all know that opinions are subjective.

Formatting bugaboos aside, and I'm not counting them because I couldn't even tell you how to format properly and I think it's just something we eBook readers are going to have to learn to overlook, there are few content issues I had trouble with. A little bit more "telling" than "showing." There were a few stories that were good idea, they just failed to develop to my satisfaction.

So I'm giving the book three stars. The reason for this isn't because it's a bad book. It's more so that I have something to upgrade his next book to. Because I believe this author has a lot of promise and with a little work, he's going to be great. So I will eagerly await his next work, to see what he's learned and how much he's improved.

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Whispers from the Dark for free! That first story is calling your name...

Happy Reading,