Saturday, 31 October 2015

Book review - Grin - Stuart Keane

Before I proceed, I just want to say, look at that cover image. That's enough to give anyone nightmares to begin with.

For Keane's latest offering we follow the story of seventeen year old Dani.

Dani leads the normal life of a teenager, raised by her parents, Dennis and Carla to respect family values. Even if it does mean her having to put up with her annoying eight year old brother; Teddy.

Life is good. She has a steady boyfriend, Ben, and her father has just given her the present that any teenager could wish for - the keys to his BMW.

Unfortunately for Dani, this is where things really take a turn for the worse. Unknown to her, her fathers involvement with a notorious London gangster, Ross Rhodes leads to the order being given for home invasion by Bradley, his right man.

The invasion leaves Dani's family executed and her as the only survivor, brutally disfigured by her attacker.

Twelve months on and Dani's physical scars have healed, however she has become a woman with a mission in life, one goal - revenge. 

The story is quite cleverly split up into three parts; 

1. Consequences.
2. Best Laid Plans.
3. Vengeance.

I don't want to give any spoilers to the story, but I can say that from the outset that this book is one hell of a thrilling ride. 

The character background is written so well that you actually feel for Dani. The story builds as a steady crescendo through the first two parts until an explosion in part three that literally left me physically breathless.

Expect a brilliant story, fantastic characters, blood, gore and unbelievable action scenes. I beta read this story in one sitting, I'm fairly sure that you will too, because once you start, you won't want to put it down. 

Its the littler things with Keane's writing, that attention to detail that make him stand out as a writer;

'He looked like a modernized version of Death, his scythe replaced with a pump action shotgun.'

Ive said it before, i will say it again. Stuart Keane is a remarkable writer and a brilliant story teller. I can't give enough praise for this book. A phenomenal accolade to his collection.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Book review - Dark Hallows - Mark Parker

Any fan of horror literature will probably agree that Halloween is an exciting time of year. There are always going to be a number of special releases for readers to feast their eyes upon. Why not opt for a fantastic short story collection with a Halloween theme?This new collection is one  for readers who love short, chilling stories.

The book is a collection of ten dark tales from authors that are well established, and more than capable of giving the reader a fright. If, like me, you enjoy Halloween this is the perfect book for you to help you get in that mood.

I would really recommend this book to anyone. It has everything that a good collection needs; Dark twists, macabre characters and scares galore. The fantastic cover immediately grabs your attention and each story is presented with a unique image relating to the tale and a great foreword by Mark.

The stories;

Mister Parker – A story about Benjamin Parker. A man that lived a simple life; he has no wife, no kids, he is a teacher at the local school. He has two things in life that he loves – books and astronomy. He absolutely hates Halloween because of a previous incident involving his father. He arrives home on Halloween evening feeling unwell, he goes to bed with a book. He is awoken when someone rings the doorbell. Is it the local juvenile’s playing pranks, or something more sinister?

The Maze – Four friends visit a local attraction, a corn maze run by the mysterious Miss Mackenzie. Follow Dozelle, Adam, Sean and Ashley in their journey through the corn. Ancient Celts believed that the evil ‘Sidh’ return for sacrifice during Samhain. This is an incredibly tense, creepy story.

Monster Night – Jonathan’s mom takes pride every year in making his Halloween costume. His mom’s friend tells him the story of the ‘pumpkin eater.’ Not a man that likes to consume pumpkins, somewhat the opposite.

Johnny Halloween – The sheriff of a small town comes across a convenience store where the clerk has been murdered. Two eye witnesses claim that they saw the killer – a man in a mask. He begins to recall his first shooting as the story unfolds with a fantastic twist.

All Souls Day – A unique, dark tale about the town of Orangefield as viewed from the perspective of a hawk. Three lives must be given in a tribute to the dark one every Halloween, taken by the hawk. But what happens when someone kills the bird?

Starting Early – The story of a woman - Miss Maggie. A woman who is preparing for Halloween. She must get the preparation done early along with the help of her little friend Cecily and her trusty iphone. Upon returning home one night she thinks that she has been burgled. Watch for another superb twist.

Freight Train Tommy – A horror story set in rural Austrialia about a boy – Luke. Luke visits the local librarian after being bullied at school by Sammy because of his super hero costume. She gives him a blank page from a book to read when, claiming that he will know when it is the right time to read. As the freight train thunders into town, so does Tommy. A very creepy little number.

There Are Corners In The World Where Lost Things Gather – Possibly my favourite story of the collection. A story about two brothers growing through life together, gaining the interest of girls and experimenting with things that they shouldn’t be. Its Halloween, they decide begrudgingly to try trick or treating. Bored, they decide to up the ante by heading to the Draeger House. A fantastic story - Imagine Stand By Me, mixed with The Frighteners.

The Under the Tutelage of Mr Trueheart – Ten year old schoolboy Warren Enck strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly gentleman; Mr Trueheart, after helping him out through the cubs. Mr Trueheart has a gift. A gift to see people as they really are.  Its Halloween, Warren is on the way to the old man’s house, his face painted in white greasepaint. Between themselves they are on a mission to save the world, Mr Truehart is to entrust Warren with two items of great value.

The Darkest Night Of The Year – Roeselyn Saunders awakes early one morning, its nearly dawn. She shudders as she remembers that tomorrow is Halloween. She hates what her Mother refers to as ‘the dark holiday’ following a fright that she suffered at a young age - the result of a cruel prank. She wakes the next morning feeling shaky from a bad dream. She decides to head out and run some chores. She looks forward to getting home and locking herself away in her bedroom with a good book. When she gets back she has a shock when she finds a makeshift grave, complete with headstone in for front garden. Shaking with dread she runs to bed, a few hours later she hears a knock at her door. When she looks out of her window to investigate, what she sees makes her pass out with fear.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Book review - Wings Of Sorrow - Iain Rob Wright

For Iain's latest offering we return to Redlake. A town that readers of Wright's books will already be aware of. Let me just start by saying that at first, I was unsure whether this story would be my cup of tea. By the end of the book I was totally blown away.

We follow the story of sixteen year old Scarlet Thomas. Scarlet lives with her father, a single parent, following her mother walking out on her own family mysteriously some ten years previous.

They had relocated to Redlake following her dad losing his previous job in their hometown of Moseley. His insecurities in his new job had subsequently led to him becoming a workaholic, his love for his child unquestionable, but his need to provide for her greater than the time that they spent together.

Since moving to Redlake, Scarlet hadn't made many friends. Her social circle mainly consisted of her boss Mr Chester and her colleague Indy where she worked in the Little Treasures Emporium. A shop on the High Street that sold rare books and artefacts. Scarlet had once taken liking to a necklace, that her employer had sold to her with an agreement that payment would be deducted from her wages in instalments.

On her way home from work one evening, Scarlet walks down by the lake and helps and finds a man on the banks; Alone, confused, naked.

This sparks the beginning of an unlikely companionship with the man that she names 'Sorrow.' As the story unfolds, Sorrow proclaims that he has been sent to protect Scarlet.

Not to give too much away with this, the story will contain demons, witches and a secret society called the White Order. As Scarlet's powers awaken, It unfolds nicely. Why did Scarlet's mother really disappear? Who is the real Mister Chester?

The story swerves and twists right up to the finale where Scarlet has to make the ultimate decision to sacrifice one life in exchange for many.

I would have this down as a crossover between supernatural horror and fantasy. Something that I was unsure about at first, but thoroughly enjoyed.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

Book review. N Is For Nightmare - Iain Rob Wright

Norman 'Noddy' Shakespear was pretty much your average nineteen year old. He worked, he drove, he lived with his mom who he paid rent. 

Ever since his ex girlfriend; Michelle had dumped him six months ago he enjoyed going out, having fun, getting drunk, getting high.

Tonight, he hadn't intended going mad, maybe a few pints. That was until he had bumped into Gaz. 

Now Gaz was always a bad influence, but he was always guaranteed to have the best gear. Following an alcohol and ecstasy fuelled evening, the boys meet a couple of birds. 

In a mess, Noddy somehow manages to drive home. Having not eaten since lunch he raids the fridge for leftovers, when he meets another girl. A younger girl, holding a dead cat....

Iain returns to his A to Z with this little cracker. A great story, with a nice twist.

Monday, 12 October 2015

New release available now

Available now for digital download or paperback from Amazon

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Book Review - The Island - Michael Bray

The story starts in 2018 and introduces the character Damian Lomar. A man looking to take the reigns of the Lomar Corporation from his father; Jackson.

Damian has a vision. A vision of producing an island. A totally man made structure. A natural habitat for creatures of the world to exist in peace, away from the polluted cities. 

Forward to 2043. The pollution in the city is worse and the economy is broken. People cannot find work. Enter Chase Riley. A man desperate to find work to support his wife Ashley and terminally ill daughter Elsie. Elsie, now nine was diagnosed with lung cancer when she was five years old. Chase himself is becoming more concerned at his ever worsening cough.

Damian Lomar publicly announces that he wants to re-open the island after ten years. He has the idea of producing a reality TV show. The concept is simple; Survive the island, travel from one side to the other and one person can win whatever prize they desire. Money, publicity. In a world where Chase can find a cure for his daughter for the right price, he attempts to enter the competition, only to have his suspicions confirmed about his own failing health. 

The first six contestants are assembled and meet up with Damian Lomar before travelling to the island; Chase, Moses, Perrie, Ryder, Ellie,  and Alex. They are about to go head to head in a competition that signing a waiver could ultimately result in signing their own death warrant. 

Nobody knows for sure who or what is on the island. As the competitors are dropped in the safe zone and camp overnight, rumours of radiation contaminated mutants, and ghosts emerge. 

As they proceed, it seems that things are not as straight forward as they first thought as they get involved in the thrill of the hunt. But who is hunting who? It soon becomes clear which of the contestants have survival experience as the group begin to acknowledge to themselves that survival may not be an option. 

A rollercoaster of a read. Thrills, scares, excitement, cannibalism, betrayal, this story has it all. It will keep you hooked from the start and throughout. An absolutely huge achievement for Michael Bray. An absolutely massive book, not in terms of page count but in terms of the colossal story.

As in his previous Cody Rexell and the death worm, Bray has proven once more that he is a varied and talented writer.