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Smashwords book reviews by vi reaper
- Legends of Urban Horror: A Friend of a Friend Told Me
on June 22, 2013
Urban legends are everywhere. Everyone has one. Some you may hear time and time again, each time the story may change a little but basically it's the same. Then there are myths of local legend. An escaped mental patient here, a restless ghost there, a spirit of a child who cries...you know what I mean. Once you've read one book on Urban Legends, you've read them all. But, this book is different. The twist to this collection of ten short stories is that the writers involved are clever. They know you know, they know that you think you know the ending so, with that in mind, they have taken each tale and totally re-inventing it in ways the reader could never imagine.This is why this collection is genius.
'Bunnyman': A serial killer finds a new more powerful way to spread fear when he is approached by a man who shows him how he can take small town spook stories and use them to his advantage. You'll never look at bunnies the same way again.
'Never A Bride': A bridesmaids dress is specially made with evil sewn into it's very fabric. Forgotten at the bottom of a wardrobe, it waits patiently for it's next victim while gloating over the destruction it has caused before.
'The Pit': Overhearing a rumour about a pit deep in the woods, a group of kids set out to discover it. What starts out as fun soon has the kids vowing never to return. But,one does. Now a grown man he discovers, first hand, about what lies deep at the bottom of The Pit.
'The Kindness of Strangers': You've heard the one about always checking your back seat before getting in your car. Well, one unfortunate woman finds out exactly why you should and shouldn't do just that.
'The Delectable Hearts': A jaded music journalist finds out why everyone is going crazy for a new band. Can he resist the unearthly pull to become just another one of their groupies.
'The Pier': Take a trip through the weird and wonderful pier. Past the fairground rides that disappear, past the bright awnings of the booths. Try to ignore the people who bring back memories of others. Beware the circus tent.
'Hairy Man Road': Is he real or fake. The Hairy Man's long toenails will make a boy's prank backfire.
'The Bridesmaid': A woman looking for a gown visits a strange store that leaves her with nightmares of bleeding eye pictures and fighting humanoid blobs that seek slaves and worshippers.
'The Curse of The Devil's Tree': As part of an initiation a group of guys are dared to take a cutting from a supposedly cursed tree. False bravado soon turns to tragedy.
'Marrow' A logger awakens an old monster that has been kept hungry for too long.
Altogether a very good collection of stories that are interesting and entertaining. With a fresh take on old legends, just keep telling yourself that it's not real. It's just a myth.
- Days with the Undead: Book One
on June 24, 2013
How do you make a new, refreshing, exciting and unpredictable take on a zombie apocalypse story? Well, it's quite simple really: You have to care about the characters.
It's far too easy for writers to follow the same old lines when writing zombie stories. Most get so caught up on the biting teeth, over the top gore and violence that they discard the one thing that keeps the story together, the one thing that keeps your interest and that is the people you, as the reader, have to identify with. The people who are left in a broken world full of shambling but deadly dead people. Thankfully this book invests precious time and care into the characters. A flawed, scared and desperate group of five that find themselves constantly trying to outrun and escape the ever encroaching threat of not just dying but becoming that which they most fear: Undead. Written in the form of a series of blog entries that details the day to day tensions and emotions the five face. They are clever resourceful characters that side-step the stereotypical survivors we usually meet in zombie novels. They are ordinary people thrown head-first into an extraordinary situation. They quickly adapt, always moving, always checking the corners. The are not just written only to be fodder for hungry mouths. There is no help from the military or police, heck even The President of The USA finds himself in an uncomfortable position. Nearly every entry in the book ends with a plea to us to get armed, get stocked up and to get moving. It's almost like reading a survival guide for a world-wide disaster that could be happening right now, unreported and just down the street. As with the style of the book, there are moments of complete despair and terror but there are also moments of touching sadness and even some humour, especially the part about undead chipmunks.
I really enjoyed this book. It's pace never slows.The tension never stops and the world is beautifully realized and written, deep with ravaging detail and claustrophobic design. Having read loads of zombie stuff, I was surprised by how much I felt for the characters. As the novel continued and the never-ending almost circular road trip from hell kept going, I found myself losing hope that these people would ever find peace but I had to keep reading because, salvation could be just around the next bend. There again, around the next bend there might be a city ablaze and pirates with flame-throwers. Enjoy.
- Childhood Nightmares: Under The Bed
on Aug. 12, 2013
Remember when you were a kid and in the dead of night you'd hear a sound? A sound you were convinced came from within your room? Maybe it came from underneath the floorboards, in a big old wardrobe or, even worse,from under your bed? Well if you do remember then this collection of short stories will make those bad memories burst upon your mind with a cringe and send a shiver down your spine.
There are twelve stories here.
'Forgotten' by Jack Wallen: Dylan hears an eerie voice of young girl beckoning him to play a game with her. While he is initially petrified, curiosity and bravery soon overcomes him. As Dylan befriends the little ghost girl, he is unaware that this ghost holds a dark family secret and grave intentions.
'Baby Teeth' by Kim Krodel: As Brian loses his first ever tooth, scare stories about the gruesome tooth fairy results in family tragedy.
'Madeleine' by Julianne Snow: Young Stella is plagued every night by dreams about the deaths of her family. All is forgotten however when Stella's birthday arrives and she is gifted with a beautiful doll. The doll is said to steal away nightmares but Stella soon discovers that some things are worse than bad dreams.
'Telling Tales' by Phil Hickes: Peters Great Aunt loves to terrify the boy with violent and disturbing bedtime stories. whilst he thinks she's just mean there is a hidden warnings in those tales the boy should have listened to.
'Excess Baggage' by Lisamarie Lamb: A tale that proves not all bedtime spook stories focus on children. Adults can be targeted too.
'Timothy' by Joshua Skye: Debts must be re-paid in this violent story of a kid versus a clawed and clever beast.
'Show and Tell' by Kate Monroe: Tommy resents being the family disappointment, the laughing stock and the bullied so he calls into action his very special best friend, namely the monster that lives in his bedroom.
'The Confession of a Confirmed Has-Been' by John McIlveen: The ghost of a man becomes attached to the little girl of the family that has moved into his old home. So attached that he wants her to stay with him forever and ever.
'Seeing is Believing' by Amber Keller: The disbelieving parents of a terrorized boy discover that there really was something there all along.
'Bent Metal' by Nina D'Arcangela: A distressing nightmare about a car crash lingers in the mind of girl all day in this touching terrorizer with a twist.
'Shades of Red' by Colin F.Barnes: A man under arrest for mass murder accounts his early years to a psychiatrist. But did he kill or was it a something called the Shade?
'Socks' by Brandon Scott: Is a grandfather's tale of a sock drawer monster real or folly? Empty the drawer and find out.
Altogether this a good collection of stories. The restrictions implemented by the overall theme of the book do lead to a little repetition in the form of content but there are also some quite brilliantly executed nail-biters that more than make up for it in the form of fresh ideas and truly interesting avenues that are as unpredictable as they are frightening. So, if you feel like reliving those formative years where ever noise in a dark room meant there was a monster just inches away, I recommend this book. Read it before you go to bed for full effect. Enjoy.
- Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity
on Aug. 15, 2013
Even amongst the mounting technology and digital enhancement that dominates the world today myths prevail, whether it be something as abstract as superstition or something as deep-rooted as curses and rituals, people still pass on twisted tales of fairies, goblins, the Underworld and the wrath of scorned Gods long forgotten but still ablaze with power. This collection of twelve short stories contain a cross section of legends and folklore.
'It Lives With Us' by Thomas James Brown: The small isolated town of Lynnwood offers a idyllic way of life, but each year when The Winter Soltice rolls around the people of the town hide in fear of what might come knocking on the door.
'Reemergence' by Nina D'Arcangela: The eldest son of a Sea Captain falls overboard during a horrendous storm. As the waves threaten to rob him of his life a beautiful woman who floats atop the waves offers her hand in rescue...but at what price?
'Mosaic' by Jonathan Templar: Andrea discovers the remnants of an old Roman mosaic which depicts a vicious act of violence. Does the mosaic explain why Andrea feels eyes watching her from the woods?
'Riddle Me Real' by Lisamarie Lamb: A very old being that has been made to feel redundant in today's times finds a novel way to make himself feel pertinent once more.
'Voices' by Kate Monroe: Maeve is a powerful being fixated on war and strife. Leading people astray is what she does best. Whether it's her nagging voice in your head or her body to die for, human ruin is never too far away from this powerful Goddess.
'Memorial' by Joseph A.Pinto: Two brothers war over a woman. Through torture and grief, one brother turns to masochistic means to keep close at hand the memory of his love.
'The Silver Comb' by J.Marie Ravenshaw: An innocent looking treasure discovered in the woods leads one young woman to a terrifying face to face with a dangerous spirit.
'Keine Solche Sache' by Edward Lorn: A German scientist, looking for easy funding for his own ground-breaking research agrees to an experiment that sees him birth a dreadfully dangerous otherworldly being.
'Hades and the Hydra' by Amber Keller: Hades takes a holiday above ground to show the world just what Armageddon really looks like. Who, if anyone, can save humanity?
'A Fair Price' by Alexa Muir: A couple take a break at their French villa. But the holiday suddenly turns nightmarish as a hidden secret is revealed and a bargain has to be made.
'Drakul' by K.Trap Jones: A satyr made to serve a God finds himself the victim of cruelty that robs him of his exulted position but vengeance is sweet when served cold from the gates of Hell.
'The Plight of Phaylen Ponsford' by Julianne Snow: Badly burned when young and left with terrible scars, Phaylen escapes into a world of archaeology. Could a beautiful find from the sands of Greece change Phaylen's luck?
You don't have to be into or informed about mythology for this book to appeal. In fact, with it's rich diversity of tales and tellings this book might just spark your interest into Gods of yore.
In turns creepy, chilling, sick and funny this book is very well written and edited and will definitely keep you engrossed. A different take on the horror field that's very well done.
- Carnage: After the End - Volume 1
on Aug. 21, 2013
There are a myriad of ways the World as we know it could end. Will it be cataclysmic like nuclear bomb drops, huge volcanic eruptions, continent destroying earthquakes or invasions of violent mutations? Or will it be something more slight that ends us like a financial meltdown or simple human greed and stupidity. Whatever the cause, the truth is the world will end someday and that day may well be today. Thankfully while society is still rumbling along nicely we all have the time to read apocalypse stories instead of wasting our time searching for food and clean water whilst hiding from gangs intent on pillaging.
The ten short stories here include a wide range of apocalypse scenarios, each dramatically different from each other. Predictability is an easy trap to fall into when writing End-of-Days fiction. But, thankfully the writers avoid the trap of toxic rain and nuclear fallout for the most part, choosing instead to focus on deeply human tales of survival.
'The Meat Men' by Rodney James Galley: Two guys are heading out towards Nasa. Stopping at a gas station they come across an emaciated pair of fellow survivors. Initial trepidation and mistrust are quickly put aside as both pairs trade in food and petrol but who was correct to fear the other?
'Begging Death' by Laura Diamond: A touching story of ultimate devotion set in world without death. Lucas hides his lover Peter from the powerful militia that rules the land. Peter's defiance and Lucas' desperation soon force the couple into a terrifying situation where an unthinkable decision has to be made.
'The Scurrying' by Christofer Nigro: In a world overrun by mutated rats, the leader of a tribe of survivors remains belligerent in the face of disaster and obsessed with mankind's survival...but at what cost?
'Scents of Danger' by Julianne Snow: Martha's mundane existence in thrown into turmoil as earthquakes wreak havoc releasing toxins from the Earth. Serving as a cook of scavenged food, her loyalty to her children is soon tested. What will she do to ensure their survival?
'Rescissions' by Shane Cashman: In a world of sand 'The Wanderer' discovers some old tech. Unsure of it's intended use, 'The Wanderer' listens intently to voice emanating from the device whilst all the time 'The Hounds' draw near.
'High Dessert, Starless Sky' by Michael Griffin: Lyle looks after Marnie after her husband abandons her. But is his loyalty to her misplaced and what will be the outcome of his decision to leave the woman to look after herself?
'The Hunger' by Kimberly A Bettes; Starvation leads a woman through a ruined city of desolation. Happening on a friendly face she fills her belly as she recalls how the world was brought to it's knees by something as simple as a price tag.
'Prophecy of Numbers' by Russell Linton: Marcus excels at evaluating catastrophe but miles away from home and desperate to find his family a voice of probability hijacks his mind and fuels his travels across a warring America.
'Mad World' by Adam Millard: As a murderous virus of insanity sweeps the world two people survive as best they can but one mistake puts their lives in danger.
'The Vault' by Shane R.Collins: A friendly neighbour offers salvation to a couple in return for work but as he lords it over his 'workers' resentment and hostility soon bubbles to the surface of this seemingly idyllic island of society that exists in a broken dangerous world.
If you like any kind of apocalypse fiction you are sure to find something interesting and fresh here. For anyone else you can just call it preparing for the inevitable.
NOTE: I was given this book for the purpose of review.
- Carnage: After the End - Volume 2
on Sep. 01, 2013
In reading this second volume of Earth ending short stories you will realize just how many ways life as we know it could end. It could make you feel very small and totally useless or, depending on your point of view of society, it could fill you with hope knowing that the end is always near and that maybe if the ever impending apocalypse does happen we can rise from the ruin and try not to make such a mess of the World the second time around. Either way read and enjoy yet another fine collection of 'what-if' tales.
'Jaundice' by Zachary O'Shea: In a world overrun with mold and mildew Cara's detestable job is to clear out the yellowed infected that used to be people. On a routine run she is suddenly isolated from her crew, as danger draws near a man with an axe provides rescue but is he a hero or is there something else running through the ruins that could pose the greatest threat yet.
'Hoolies' by Harper Hull: After the end, the remaining survivors fly colours, flags that set them apart from other gangs and provide a sense of pride. To lose your flag is to incur shame and death. Are these flags really reminders of old society's divisions or merely incomplete remnants of kinship and shared interests?
'Juliana' by Angel D.Callido: Kenshiro wanders across America's ruined wasteland in search of his sister. A terrible disease has turned many people into 'Spitter's'. Will a chance meeting with a few soldiers aid him in his quest to find his remaining family or provide him with more misery?
'The Mouse Ran Down' by Adrian Tchaikovsky: A small group of survivors jump from era to era, trying to outrun their enemy. From Prehistoric to Elizabethan to Roman, can time begin again as normal or are they doomed to run forever.
'Rock Garden' by L.E. White: A meteorite that falls to ground in Hawaii has the effect of turning people to stone. As a man tries to keep his family safe, reports start surfacing that some survivors have taken to eating the rock remains of the dead with terrifying consequences.
'The Silence of the Dead' by Wednesday Silverwood: A complete silence fills the world. Neither voices or footsteps are heard. Even the rolling sea is silent. As the world erupts into chaos and savagery some people hide, wary of the strange creatures that circle in the air.
'A Birthday to Remember' by Harry Manners: Alex wakes to a world empty of people. A great blaze takes the street as he watches. Alone, he runs trying to ignore the tidy piles of clothes that litter the pavement as the people inside them simply vanished.
'An End for Some' by Jason Lairamore: When bombs fall a boy moves along with his extended family into the countryside. He is forced to grow up fast as his skills are tested when his parents disappear and he is left to rescue his sister from a gang of violent marauders.
'Knock Knock, Who's There?' by Magda Knight: A surrealist tale of a science experiment gone awry, massive unnatural beasts, knights in shining armour and survival by beach ball.
'Clean World' by Charlie Fish: A world 'cleansed' of people allows a man the freedom to do as he wishes. To destroy or admire, without rule or law he enjoys his people free domain and is willing to do anything to protect the lifestyle he so enjoys.
A good collection of stories that both expand the field of apocalypse by taking it in new and fresh directions while also dealing with the subject in varied and deep detail.
NOTE: I was gifted this book for the purpose of review.