Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Clouded by Envy by Candace Robinson

Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.

Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind.

When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes.

What drew me in straight away was the cover, look at that! It's gorgeous and macabre all at the same time. I would classify this is a a YA coming of age story but one that adults will love too. There's lots of really cool elements of fairy tales tropes and fantasy which I love. This is a book unlike anything I've ever read before and as a result it was one I couldn't put down.

There's some really cool characters in this book which makes it so addictive, I loved the opposing natures of Bray and Brenik which the story centres around. They are twins but life is much easier for Bray and her brother finding it harder to adapt after being abandoned by their parents soon becomes clouded by envy. This is a really original tale that whisks you away into another world!

Clouded by Envy by Candace Robinson will be out February 2019!

Friday, 23 November 2018

Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick by Steve Stred

Within this book, the author of Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery, Invisible, Yuri and Wagon Buddy returns to ensure you will be looking behind you frequently while reading.
Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick collects all new tales filled with depravity and retribution.  Brimming with horror, thrills and creepy chills, the reader is sure to find the hairs standing up on the back of their necks and the occult themes causing them to question the true nature of the lights flickering.
When all is said and done, when you finally finish reading this batch of stories, you will have found that at some point, you locked the doors, checked under the bed, and made sure all of the closet doors are closed.
You have been warned.
I was lucky enough to win this in a giveaway and to my shame it's taking me ages to finally get round to it! But now that I have, I'm so glad. There's a lot to love about this collection. It's dark, fun and full of surprises. 
I really liked how these stories all start off really normal, beginning with everyday situations we all find ourselves, but then of course it quickly descends into horror and mayhem. There's no chance to stop reading these gripping, fast paced stories. There's a great range of styles, subject matter and genres within, all untied by an underlying current of horror.  They're so original you never know which direction Steve Stred is going to take you in.
Stand out stories for me in this collection include; The Witch a great tale of powerful women being in total control. Wardrobe malfunction was brilliant, that story just keeps getting darker and darker! Tossers and Thunderstorm are also up there, I loved the mysterious ending of the latter. Head Case really stood out for me too and shows that technological advances aren't always to our advantage.
Stred also offers up fascinating author notes alongside his tales, explaining how he came up with the original ideas
This is a really good collection of tales and can't wait to see what he writes next!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun

Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past. 
Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house's dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.

This is a great book for so many reasons. The main characters of Mark and Emma are great, very different but both very likeable, you really get behind them. I really felt like I got to know them as the book progressed which gives the book a really emotional feel when the horror begins to hit home, (literally!) 

Fountain Dead is told via two story lines which meet up in dramatic conclusion. One is Emma's tale from 1860 who is uprooted from her home leaving behind her first love. Her father wants her to marry and live out her life as someone's wife but she has other plans...

Our other main character is Mark. A teenager from 1988 he shares lot in common with Emma. He too has been forced to move with his parents when they secure teaching posts at a university and leaves his first love far behind.I really enjoyed both timelines, and as the plot progresses it gets really tense for both characters so much so that when you're reading about Emma you're desperate to get back to Mark's POV and vice versa!

I loved Mark a brilliant portrayal of a teenage boy. I don't how I know this as to the best of my knowledge, I've never been a teenage boy! For him it's a real coming of age tale where he's forced to become a man, taking control and making decisions about what's best for his family. He's got a lot on his plate in this book, figuring out who he is, what's important to him, his family and how far he'll go to protect the ones he cares about which he goes about with a great sense of humour.

Emma is also a great character who refuses to settle as someone's wife but wants to teach and help shape young minds. She goes through a lot but she's a fighter.

And of course, there's a whole load of ghosts to entertain you too!

Fountain Dead is so much more than just a haunted house story, there's a lot of elements to this tale, the importance of families sticking together through thick or thin, duty vs desire, revenge and loss.

I've read a lot of great stories by Theresa Braun over the years, all of these have been horror themed. But in this book she also shows off her abilities as an amazing romance author which really adds a lot of depth to Fountain dead. I have to admit I'm not too keen on romance, clearly horror is my jam, but the romantic subplots in this are amazing, really poignant and moving.

The ending is great too, every tiny loose end is tied up in one great big ending!

Fountain Dead is out soon, November 20th via Unnerving.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Grim Reader reviews Tales From the Realm

Really thrilled to have woken up to a new review for Tales From the Realm from Grim Reader Reviews who does so much to help promote great horror. I have a story in this - The Forgotten House!

You can read his review here

Find out more about Aphotic Realm here. P.S they're about to release their Eldritch themed anthology!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Eat the Rich by Renee Miller

I first became familiar with Renee Miller after reading Church, which was really fantastic, it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through and Eat the Rich is no exception.

"When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city's homeless population spikes.

So does the murder rate.

Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city's wealthiest residents. He tries to warn the police, but they think he's crazy.

The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.

He's right about the aliens. They're here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a plan B:

Eat the Rich from Hindered Souls Press, is based on an alien invasion like no other. It's told from both sides, the aliens and the unfortunate humans involved. Each chapter is based around a different character's who all have their own distinct personalities. I particularly liked Marin, the no-nonsense straight talking detective trying to make sense of mounting cases of mysterious murders where only the bones are left.

Of course we know what's going on as the reader which makes the book really fun. What I also liked is the very dark sense of humour prevailing throughout. I think we've all had fantasies of toppling the 1% of the population who own 99% of the world's wealth, but this book questions how would that scenario actually play out. Capitalism is always thought of as an evil force but are there any better alternatives right now?

So, back to the story a group of alien covertly launch an invasion. They come looking for human meat but only the very rich can satisfy their taste buds. Sometimes these aliens come off as strangely sweet they have the best intentions to improve life for us human except no one wanted their help.

The book is really fun and all the chapters are short and snappy which creates a really fast paced novel. I can't wait to read more by her! What I really like about Renee Miller is that she's not just a really good writer, but she's also a really good storyteller which to me are two very separate things. I haven't seen many writers who have both talents. A great book!

About the Author

I'd like to say I hate talking about myself, but that would be a lie. I don't mind in the least. Will it be interesting? Meh, probably not. 

Let's see, I write suspense, comedy, paranormal, horror and erotic horror fiction, because I'm terrible at choosing just one of anything. 

You can find me talking about writing and other stuff over at Underground Book Reviews or on www.deviantdolls.org.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste is an amazing book and you're all in for a treat. I was very excited to have been given an ARC as this is an author who's work I've been avidly following. Initialy she was mostly a short story writer, gracing the pages of Black Static, Lamplight, Interzone, Shimmer, Nightmare and a whole load more. Since then she turned her hand to writing a critically acclaimed novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row which was released last year.

And 2018 heralds her first novel - The Rust Maidens.

The Rust Maidens is set in Ohio during the 80's the title is a reference to what became known as the Rust Belt when industry rapidly declined leaving many families out of work. Rust Maidens follows the tale of the inhabitants of Denton street battling to survive the economic downturn. Things get a whole load worse for them, but it's not just the men who suffer but the women too, particularly the Rust Maidens made to suffer the actions of man.

Told mostly in flashback through Phoebe Shaw who returns reluctantly to her old home after 28 years to find her scars have not healed as well and she would have hoped. Ms Kiste has created a beautifully haunting landscape which also manages to be creepy and threatening at the same time. I too grew up in a small town and she has brilliantly captured the claustrophobic living conditions where the past and present taunt you every day.

Cleveland, Ohio is a town Phoebe is desperate to escape once she's graduated from High School, she plans to run into the sunset with her beloved cousin Jacqueline but her plans are scuppered when four local girls fall prey to a mysterious illness that no one can explain.

This is a coming of age story like no other, at first the girls are left to fend for themselves, even their nearest and dearest are unwilling to help them they would rather forget they ever existed. However Phoebe won't turn a blind eye and goes to battle like Joan of Arc.

I found Phoebe a really interesting character, the final girl who gets to tell her story in her own words.  What I like about Phoebe is that she possesses none of the usual final girl traits that allow them to survive. She's not a virginal innocent young girl, she does what she wants, never bites her tongue and not afraid to get into a fight. And she certainly doesn't allow herself to fall in love with the bad guy.

I really enjoyed this book. I could discuss it for hours but I don't like adding spoilers into my review and ruin the story for those of you who have yet to read it. Let's just say it's a book you can quite happily read over and over again.

It's a little off topic but this book reminds me of watching a history programme where a female historian was lamenting the fact that so many important women have vanished from history, and this book really reflects that. This is what Phoebe fights for, to have them remembered.

The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner

This has definitely got to be the most WTF book I have ever read? At the end of every page I was like "WTF?!" And it only got weirder further in.

This is a really fun book and Tim Waggoner certainly has an amazing imagination which has earned him a Bram Stoker Award.

Jayce, a middle aged man stuck in a rut has lost his daughter. She's vanished into thin air and it's taken all these years following his bitter divorce to realise he barely knows anything about his beloved Emory. But one thing he is sure of is that he'll go to any lengths to find her.

But finding his daughter is no easy journey when he discovers a dangerous underworld, Shadow which  exists along ours. Jayce suspects this is where his daughter is, and that she might be in danger.

"He'll do anything it takes to find his daughter, even if it means becoming a monster himself..."

I wouldn't really classify this as horror though it is certainly dark. I loved how it was so unpredictable  which makes it a book hard to put down once you start reading it. This book can get quite uncomfortable at times, particularly when Jayce begins to learn more about Emory, it's literally every dad's worst nightmare but I love how Tim Waggoner is an author not afraid to embrace being controversial.

I was very fortunate to be given this book from Flame Tree Press which has just launched in exchange for an honest review. I have read quite a few titles, The Siren and the Specter, Bad Neighbour and many more I can't wait to get started on. I'd like to say how impressed I am with the craftsmanship of the writers involved. They're all amazing books and I can't wait to see what's released next.