Wonderland Press

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Smashwords book reviews by Wonderland Press

  • Dark Faith on Jan. 23, 2011

    Note - I read slush for Apex; this is an Apex book. A collection of short stories related to faith. Some of them went for the cheap tricks, but here were some of my favorites: The Mad Eyes of the Heron King - Richard Dansky. All herons are the Heron King. Scrawl - Tom Piccirilli. About a humble writer of porn. Cracked me up. The Days of Flaming Motorcycles - Catherynne Valente. Borders on the edge of hipsterism but still shines. Sandboys - Richard Wright. Two boys made out of sand on the seashore. It's a good thing when you read a collection and go, "Not bad," after you finish a story. None of these were quite immortal, but definitely on the high side of very good.
  • Walter's Bucket List on April 13, 2011

    Warning! Spoiler in next paragraph! This was a woman's version of the beginning of the movie Up, and I thought it was very sweet. The middle slowed me, like a series of pictures flying by, but the end more than made up for it.
  • Shattered - A Wizard's Work Book One on April 27, 2011

    Disclaimer: I know Mark. We met at a story-marketing workshop, and over the course of the workshop, he kept using his book as an example in his questions. By the time the workshop was over, I was sold. It's my reader candy...fantasy, intrigue, yeah. My kind of thing. What you have here is a high-fantasy novel that's not so much in the vein of Tolkein as it is in the vein of Stephen R. Donaldson's Mirror of Her Dreams/A Man Rides Through. Not as many plot twists (but lots of good red herrings), not as much blood (but there's a good one in there). A solid, put-your-feet-up, enjoyable fantasy book.
  • How to Cook Husbands: A Creepy Story on June 29, 2011

    Hee hee hee hee! I don't want to spoil it :)
  • Beyond Reach: Book 1 of the Beyond Saga on July 07, 2011

    Assassins, monkeys, and true love--oh my! Solid SF Adventure in a dark vein - almost, but not quite, romantic. An enjoyable diversion :)
  • Mutable Things on Aug. 18, 2011

    Interesting premise, characters, lots of action (and sex). There is just nothing wrong with this book. If that was all it was, though, I probably would have blown it off. However, she gets into a lot of depth (but not preachiness) about the expectations that young women face. "Be what your lover wants you to be" isn't something that just empaths have to face. Philosophical meat to a catchy thriller. Very nice.
  • Vermin on Oct. 18, 2011

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Get it off get it OFF! This was a straightforward but spectacularly EWWW horror short story. A couple of exterminators have to clean up a house that's rumored to be haunted and discover more than they bargained for: it's either going to be a retread or it's going to be a classic, depending on the way it's pulled off, right? It's a classic. YUCK. I hate bugs.
  • Vermin on Oct. 18, 2011

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Get it off get it OFF! This was a straightforward but spectacularly EWWW horror short story. A couple of exterminators have to clean up a house that's rumored to be haunted and discover more than they bargained for: it's either going to be a retread or it's going to be a classic, depending on the way it's pulled off, right? It's a classic. YUCK. I hate bugs.
  • Jack Dervish, Super Spy on Dec. 04, 2011

    In short: After Jack's superspy parents go missing, he hides in their secret lair for years...learning how to be the perfect spy. Now he has to face a terrible challenge: in order to find his parents, he has to to learn how to act like a normal kid. Jack Dervish's parents disappeared when he was four years old. He was smart enough to hide out in his parents' secret lair under the house, even after new people moved in upstairs. Living off his parents' savings and by using the Internet, Jack survived more or less alone. But on his twelfth birthday, Jack finally realizes that a) he cannot accept that his parents are dead and b) they aren't going to be able to come back on their own. He decides to go on a quest to rescue them; however, he has no idea where they could be, or what they were involved in when they left (well, he was four). He decides that the only way to search for his parents is to go into the outside world. And that means...pretending to be a normal kid. After eight years in his parents' secret hideout with nobody to talk to (except for a few people over the Internet), it won't be easy. Despite making a ton of mistakes (including deciding that "Rasputin" is a good name for a kid), Jack faces down bullies, fools the school into thinking he's from a foreign country, and makes a couple of friends that like him despite his really weird way of doing things. However, Isobel is one of the worst friends that he could have made; her father works for the Homeland Security Office...and is out to capture Jack and find the truth of where he really lives, and the source of all his gadgets. The thing is, Mr. Spencer knows something about Jack's parents...why else would he have a picture of them? I had a lot of fun reading this. Jack does not fit in, and that's what fifth grade was all about for me: being smart and not fitting in. If you enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society or the Artemis Fowl books, I highly recommend this book. I thought the beginning was a little silly--a four year old living on his own? Really?--but hey, why not? This looks like the start of a fun series. Lots of gadgets, traps, and sneaking about.
  • Fright Files: The Broken Thing on Dec. 28, 2011

    In short: Stevie likes horror movies and books…but when he discovers a real haunted house and a real haunting, he chickens out and has to be dragged into finding out more by his best friend, Angie. What they discover is a threat to their lives and the ones they love. Stevie, a big horror movie and book fan, is also the victim of bullies in Nohope, Vermont. The bullies chase him into some woods that are supposed to be, if not haunted, then at least too creepy to be running around in. While there, Stevie finds a broken doll-thing that almost seems to move in his hand–the doll is later stolen by the bullies. Soon afterwards, Stevie’s mom gets into a car crash (she doesn’t die) trying to avoid a ghostly, broken-looking girl in the middle of the road…a girl who wants to get back something that was stolen. Stevie and his best friend Angie, another horror fan, find out that the ghost used to be a girl who lived at a house just past the creepy woods…a girl who supposedly murdered her whole family, then killed herself. Stevie’s teacher doesn’t believe in ghost stories (but likes local legends), yet recommends they talk to his dad, who has a different, even scarier opinion of the old house… Okay, admittedly, with Goosebumps, sometimes you just have to laugh. Some of the situations that people get into are just too funny, especially when compared with adult horror movies. The Broken Thing, however much it may go in the Goosebumbs category, provides a few more chills than that. What makes the thrills just slightly annoying is that there are so many cliffhangers that lead to fake-outs–it wasn’t the monster sneaking up on them, it was only his sister! kind of things. But that’s a minor quibble. The characters were fun, the action exciting, and the slow parts tinged with creepiness. A couple of silly moments…but sometimes you just have to have a little cheese with your screams.
  • Fright Files: The Broken Thing on Dec. 28, 2011

    In short: Stevie likes horror movies and books…but when he discovers a real haunted house and a real haunting, he chickens out and has to be dragged into finding out more by his best friend, Angie. What they discover is a threat to their lives and the ones they love. Stevie, a big horror movie and book fan, is also the victim of bullies in Nohope, Vermont. The bullies chase him into some woods that are supposed to be, if not haunted, then at least too creepy to be running around in. While there, Stevie finds a broken doll-thing that almost seems to move in his hand–the doll is later stolen by the bullies. Soon afterwards, Stevie’s mom gets into a car crash (she doesn’t die) trying to avoid a ghostly, broken-looking girl in the middle of the road…a girl who wants to get back something that was stolen. Stevie and his best friend Angie, another horror fan, find out that the ghost used to be a girl who lived at a house just past the creepy woods…a girl who supposedly murdered her whole family, then killed herself. Stevie’s teacher doesn’t believe in ghost stories (but likes local legends), yet recommends they talk to his dad, who has a different, even scarier opinion of the old house… Okay, admittedly, with Goosebumps, sometimes you just have to laugh. Some of the situations that people get into are just too funny, especially when compared with adult horror movies. The Broken Thing, however much it may go in the Goosebumbs category, provides a few more chills than that. What makes the thrills just slightly annoying is that there are so many cliffhangers that lead to fake-outs–it wasn’t the monster sneaking up on them, it was only his sister! kind of things. But that’s a minor quibble. The characters were fun, the action exciting, and the slow parts tinged with creepiness. A couple of silly moments…but sometimes you just have to have a little cheese with your screams.
  • Thunderbird on Jan. 20, 2012

    In short: Twins Janine and Justin are stuck at their father’s dinosaur-digging camp for the summer. While most kids would be thrilled, they’ve seen it all before. However, when Janine is called to find a mysterious egg for a mythological creature (the thunderbird), they’re both drawn on a quest through the regular world and the spirit world in order to save the creature from dying. When I read like a kid (I’m actually a grown up, despite what my daughter might say), I think differently than I do as an adult. Some kids’ books you can read as an adult (like Harry Potter), but some kids’ books you have to read like a kid (like Goosebumps). This book is a book you should really read as a kid, and that’s a good thing. When twins Janine and Justin take off without their father knowing where they’re going to follow a magical quest, my adult brain wanted to go, “No! Bad bad! Kids shouldn’t take off without their parents!” but it’s a book. So I turned off that part of my brain and just enjoyed the book for what it is, which is an adventure story. You know, a story in which people do stuff that they wouldn’t normally do, which, you know, most kids can figure out that they shouldn’t take off on magical quests without at least leaving their parents a note first. One thing my adult brain really got into–Justin and Janine end up making part of their lengthy journey through the spirit world. As an adult, I’ve read a lot of stuff about traveling through various spirit worlds that just leaves me bored, but the adult side of me found the spirit world described here just as interesting as my kid brain did. I really enjoyed the fact that it changes depending on who your guide is? Loved it. Fast action, not a lot of blah blah blah, good characters, interesting plot and locations: this book receives my kid-brain seal of approval.
  • The Hands of God on July 20, 2012

    An unexpected, an unexpect-able book. It starts with a fourteen-year-old girl, Pamela, who lost her mother as well as her hands in an accident, who lives with her grandparents--a cruel grandfather who keeps her locked away from the world, and a grandmother who's lost her ability to protest. Pamela should be helpless, and in fact the author gives us a lot of detail into just how hard it is for her to deal with everyday tasks, and how that difficulty means that she's treated as less than human. But Pamela is her own person, with a talent for finding patterns in things--from horseracing to deloping new tools to help her gain more function with her arms. The details are fascinating as the author works out, step by step, how Pamela lives, thinks, and changes, blossoming from a girl with no sense of the world, to a worldly young woman (in the best sense) who can look out for herself, and even make difficult choices about not only how she wants to live her life, but how she wants to affect the world around her.
  • The Hands of God on July 20, 2012

    An unexpected, an unexpect-able book. It starts with a fourteen-year-old girl, Pamela, who lost her mother as well as her hands in an accident, who lives with her grandparents--a cruel grandfather who keeps her locked away from the world, and a grandmother who's lost her ability to protest. Pamela should be helpless, and in fact the author gives us a lot of detail into just how hard it is for her to deal with everyday tasks, and how that difficulty means that she's treated as less than human. But Pamela is her own person, with a talent for finding patterns in things--from horseracing to deloping new tools to help her gain more function with her arms. The details are fascinating as the author works out, step by step, how Pamela lives, thinks, and changes, blossoming from a girl with no sense of the world, to a worldly young woman (in the best sense) who can look out for herself, and even make difficult choices about not only how she wants to live her life, but how she wants to affect the world around her.
  • Captive Girl on Sep. 18, 2012

    I was expecting something different. The opening starts out with a girl, an asteroid, a sense of impending doom...space colonists have gone to inexplicable, almost illogical lengths to defend themselves, using little orphan girls (not so little now) to do their watching for them. The story didn't go where I expected it to go: no explosions, invasions, or despreate, noble self-sacrificing deaths. Instead, the authorities are like, "Well, that was about enough of that, our computers have improved, you've been replaced, thanks, here's a normal body, well done and all that, goodbye." Again, I'm expecting something different than what the author writes, but what she does write is horrifying. But that's not the worst part. It's the way that the author talked me around to thinking, "Maybe this isn't so bad." Then I started working out parallels and realized some of the implications, some of the similarities to our world. This is one of those stories that echo in your mind, a thoughtful kind of catharsis.
  • Captive Girl on Sep. 18, 2012

    I was expecting something different. The opening starts out with a girl, an asteroid, a sense of impending doom...space colonists have gone to inexplicable, almost illogical lengths to defend themselves, using little orphan girls (not so little now) to do their watching for them. The story didn't go where I expected it to go: no explosions, invasions, or despreate, noble self-sacrificing deaths. Instead, the authorities are like, "Well, that was about enough of that, our computers have improved, you've been replaced, thanks, here's a normal body, well done and all that, goodbye." Again, I'm expecting something different than what the author writes, but what she does write is horrifying. But that's not the worst part. It's the way that the author talked me around to thinking, "Maybe this isn't so bad." Then I started working out parallels and realized some of the implications, some of the similarities to our world. This is one of those stories that echo in your mind, a thoughtful kind of catharsis.
  • Sade on the Wall on Dec. 12, 2012

    There's a horrible moment somewhere in your childhood where you realize that everything is NOT going to be okay, and that the choices you make matter, and that the difference isn't just between two things you like but between losing all hope in the universe and learning how to cope. "Coming of age" books are about learning how to be an adult, how to take responsibility, how to be serious about working for a living, etc. This is a book about learning how to get past despair, injustice, incomprehensibility - and move, not into adulthood, but into living an authentic life. A nicely orchestrated book - a lot of themes going on here, a lot of subplots, all of them driving the book forward without being obvious or slow. In parts, the book's almost too realistic--not in gory details but in the horrible, misguided things some of the characters do. It's sad. But, of course, the author pulls you back from the brink - drops everything into place. "The world is painful. Being a teenager is fraught with danger." And then, "Everyone has find an answer to that. Here are a couple of good ones."