TW Brown is the author of the Zomblog series and the Dead series. He is deeply immersed in the multiple sequels of each franchise while trying to balance the duties of husband, father, friend, and band member as well as keeping busy reading and editing the numerous submissions for a variety of upcoming anthologies and full-length titles for May December Publications. He is a member of Horror Writers Association and has had short stories published by Pill Hill Press and Living Dead Press.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.maydecemberpublications.com. You can follow him on twitter @maydecpub and on facebook under Todd Brown and also under May December Publications.
Smashwords book reviews by May December Publications
Chocolate-Covered Eyes: A Sampler Of Horror
on Jan. 09, 2012
Chocolate-Covered Eyes: A Sampler of Horror by Lori R. Lopez has a little something for everyone. I am always eager to read something by somebody I have never read before. It is how you find that special gem. This book is one of those gems.
Having said that, I enjoyed MOST of the stories found in this tome. Yet, to be fair, I have never read a collection or anthology and loved EVERY story. First and foremost, as an indie title, I will applaud how clean this book reads. Many indies tend to be sloppy with spelling, grammar, and punctuation issues. That is not the case here. We always miss a few, but this is a well edited book.
So, from the beginning:
Chocolate-Covered Eyes—this was my first encounter with horror poetry outside of Poe. It was clever and fun. There were some very creative rhymes. My favorite was “mouthful of clippers” and “heavy-duty nail clippers”. I actually chuckled a few times and when I finished, I had to find my wife and read it out loud to her.
Heartbeat—was a fun take on a zombie story from a kid’s perspective. It was not standard apocalypse material. There was a strange co-existence. It could easily be seen as every youth of a single mother viewing his world and seeing a mother’s potential suitors as monsters. Overall, this story left me feeling like I would like to revisit the central character and his band of cohorts.
Nuance—for some reason, I just couldn’t get into this tale. Here is where Ms. Lopez’s use of words hurt her in my opinion. This had the makings of a gritty story. However, she let her prose style that works so well in her poetry get in the way. Too many (as my college writing teacher used to call them…and probably still does) five-dollar words. You don’t need masticate when chew works just as well. The word choice took the edge off the story and I simply could not immerse myself in it.
Unleashed: Tail One—hands down my favorite of the bunch. There is a lot more going on here than first glance leads you to believe. Having the POV switch from a dog to a cat to a detective was done with spectacular results. I actually bookmarked this for my daughter because she loves quirky stories. By story’s end, I was fairly certain the detective was up to no good, but Lopez makes no attempt to answer all the reader’s questions, which lets the mind stew on this piece long after you read it.
Beyond The Stump—This story takes advantage of the style that worked against Lopez in Nuance. There is a dark, gothic undertone that feeds the reader with images of grainy black-and-white horror classics. This is an ideal candidate for a screenplay, provided it is done sans color. The Tree as the central figure is powerfully symbolic and used with storytelling expertise that would make Mary Shelly proud. It is a piece of horror-lit you can hand to your snobby friends who tell you comedies should not be nominated for Academy Awards as they sip from a ten dollar bottle of water and nibble on a cheese with a name you can’t begin to pronounce.
Bedeviled—I immediately thought of Scott Sigler’s book, Infected. The story is not flashy, but it is engrossing. It is a fast read and my second favorite in the collection. Be warned, if you get the heeby-jeebies watching insect documentaries…stuff cotton in your ears before engaging yourself with this tale.
Macabre—When I pick closers for my anthologies, I try to put the strongest story at the end to leave an imprint. This story was okay, just not my favorite. I don’t think I ever got swept up by the main character. I found the narrative to be too long-winded at times. It was good, but not great.
All in all, this is a fine collection. It has intrigued me enough to want to read more works by Lori R. Lopez.
This is the first title by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks that I have read. I am a fan of at least 80% of what comes out of the vaults of Permuted Press, and this series shows promise. It is well edited and very clean, so no real distractions to derail the reader...just open the cover (or power up your ereader of choice) and enjoy.
The story has many of the stock elements of the standard zombie tale. The nice thing here is that, while not being entirely explained, the source of the zombie uprising is well explained. That is an element many of these stories skip all together, so it was nice to get the WHY.
The central character, Jubal Slate is a small town cop who watches his hometown fall. Depth-wise, there is not much going on. The surrounding characters don't feel like much more than cardboard cutouts, but they do their part to advance the story. I did like how the character Fiona was dealt with (sorry, no spoilers).
Now for a few criticisms...this book takes A LOT of the elements of THE STAND. Intentional or not, you can't read this book and not see the striking similarities. Some of the dialog seemed awkward at times. Hopefully it will flow better in the sequel. Also, the finale seemed rushed (again, no spoilers) and there was a scene where a helicopter followed a car into town...then just wasn't there anymore.
I will give the second book a go This story has promise and sets up a unique and "alien" twist on the zombie story