Posts Tagged ‘Anthology’

Twist Me: A Dark Romance Anthology -12 short stories

August 15, 2017 - 6:17 am No Comments

Twist Me: A Dark Romance Anthology by Elizabeth Cash, P Mattern, Destiny Hawkins, Reagan Hollow, Erin Lee, Carissa Ann Lynch, Virginia Johnson, Ermery LeeAnn, Alana Melos, Erin Trejo, Ellie Midwood and Yolanda Olson

Published on 15th August 2017

247 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

So, a lot of people know I am not keen on a regular romance story. However; when 12 female authors known for dark storytelling get together and write an anthology all in the aid of ASPCA (For us UK readers it’s a US charity American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) I knew it was a must have.

For this review, I going to pick my favourites

Taking You Home by Elizabeth Cash: Marlow has an addiction, and it involves his toys and the female bodies. Marlow has deprived himself of his addiction and this story shows just what he does to get his fix. Meeting Aubrey he gets his fix and finds a whole new high. Whilst I knew Marlow was going to get what he wanted, I could never imagine what Marlow was going to do and the ending was apt to the book cover.

The Man in the Dark by Destiny Hawkins: Arissa and Lyla were on and off lovers, Arissa was unable to make a commitment due to the man in the dark. Whilst I was reading this story I actually felt sorry for Arissa and did doubt myself of the reality of the man in the dark. A psychological story that has an ending you don’t see coming.

Blind Capture by Virginia Johnson: What starts off to be a bad day for Naomi soon gets a lot worse, but she does not know this when she meets her mystery man off the internet. What’s begins as an innocent story about a love and lust turns into something darker. A grown woman playing with “dolls” and what she does to acquire them. I loved the way Naomi went from a timid person to a fighter. One thing I could not decide whilst reading this story was who was the monster. I would love to read more about Naomi and her search.

Loves me Not by Carissa Ann Lynch: After a nasty cycling accident Sam was helped by Jack, a seller of potions. As Sam and her boyfriend Zander were having problems she wanted a love potion but did it have the right effect. The double twist at the end made this story and was it wrong that I laughed at Jack’s confession.

Wildfire by Yolanda Olson: Jess and Judge are on a road trip escaping the law, but where do they end up. This couple reminded me of Bonny and Clyde, and whilst there were both couples on the run, that is where the comparison end. This is a dark story that keeps you guessing where they are going and as you progress through the story, you get to understand how dangerous this couple is.

If you like dark horror or romance than this is the anthology for you. The intensity of the stories made this a quick read and a book that kept me gripped from the start.

Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

July 29, 2017 - 3:07 pm No Comments

Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders by Clive Barker , Neil Gaiman , Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Stephanie M. Wytovich, John Langan, Brian Hodge, Richard Thomas and Lucy A. Snyder

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing 28th June 2017

288 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

One thing that Crystal Lake Publishing can do well is put together some amazing anthologies and this is another example of their work. This anthology has a mixture of stories and poems that will play with your imagination. Old photos, ash monsters, gnomes and even the Holy Grail all play their part in the stories. For this review; I will pick a few that I enjoyed.

The Baker of Millepoix by Hal Bodner: To get over the death of his husband, Henri decides to move to Millepoix. To help occupy his mind Henri became the local baker, but after a freak accident, his pastries did more than stop the hunger. At the start, you could sense Henri’s grief and even with his new venture you knew that he still had not moved on. Whilst he tried to fit in, it was not until the freak accident that he felt wanted and this story showed just how compassionate he was. Whilst there is a supernatural feel to this story, this was a story about grief and acceptance.

Madame Painte: For Sale by John Langan: A gnome is for sale and with it comes a warning Must keep outside. The story told by the shopkeeper was very similar to the instructions given to keep a gremlin, although the consequences were deadlier. A creepy story that ended all too soon.

Chivalry by Neil Gaiman: When Mrs Whitaker finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop, she does expect the visitor that arrives soon afterwards.  If you like rummaging in junk shops this is everyone’s dream and to have the mysterious visitor is most women’s dream. Mrs Whitaker was a lovely OAP who was happy with what she got. I loved the way she looked forward to the visitor and even the simple things like making him a sandwich gave her pleasure, although I did laugh when she used him to move all the heavy furniture on one of his visits and the ending how could she be so lucky.

The Wakeful by Kristi DeMeester: The story is about the relationship between Charlotte and her pupil Edith. This story had an eerie feel to it mainly due to the descriptive way author described what was happening to Charlotte. Whilst you do not know what Edith is or the power she has over Charlotte, you can let your imagination run loose.

This anthology is a good example of the weird and the wonderful. This will also suit readers that are not horror lovers as there is such a mixture. It’s a book that you can curl up with and forget the world. Whilst I am not a poetry lover the 2 poems in this book fitted in perfectly. Thank you Crystal Lake you have not let me down.

13 Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series book 2) by Bradon Nave, Elizabeth Roderick, Carissa Ann Lynch, Sara Schoen, Marissa Farrar, Thomas S. Flowers, S. Valentine, Erin Lee, Jackie Sonnenberg, Samie Sands, Luke Swanson, D.A. Roach, Taylor Henderson.

June 20, 2017 - 9:45 pm 1 Comment

13 Déjà Vu (Thirteen Series book 2) by Bradon Nave, Elizabeth Roderick, Carissa Ann Lynch, Sara Schoen, Marissa Farrar, Thomas S. Flowers, S. Valentine, Erin Lee, Jackie Sonnenberg, Samie Sands, Luke Swanson, D.A. Roach, Taylor Henderson.

Published by Limitless Publishing LLC on 20th June 2017

410 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Having read 13 I knew that I had to get this and pre-ordered it so it arrived on my kindle today. Knowing all the authors I knew that I would be in for a great read and I was not disappointed.

Caved in by Jackie Sonnenberg: When Fay wanted to protect her unborn baby, she knew that she needed to talk to the witch that lived in the cave. As I began this story I thought I knew what was going to happen but I was completely wrong. How the author came up with this idea of saving the baby is beyond me and I loved the graphic bloody ending.

Grave Beginnings by Sara Schoen: Three friends, an abandoned prison and a Ouija board, what could go wrong. It was a pleasant change to read a story that was not set in an asylum. Set in a prison added to the suspense and you are aware that the people who had dies there had all been convicted of evil crimes, so when a Ouija board was added you knew that something evil would emerge. This story was full of suspense and kept you guessing to the end.

Myopia by Samie Sands: Mia was blind, due to her disability, she did not make friends easy. Whilst her mom was called into work due to a medical emergency, Mia has to fend for herself and tries to learn what has happened. Only hearing what was going on in the town made it hard for Mia to grasp how serious the situation was. Whilst it would be worrying be left alone, losing one of your senses makes it even more scary and you can understand all of Mia’s emotions. The ending made me want to know more about her survival and I felt really sorry for her as yet again she was classed as a burden. The only good thing was she could not see the devastation happening, although I am sure her imagination made it worse.

Room 249 by Thomas S Flower: The story follows Andy as he goes on a crime and killing spree and ends up in a motel in room 249. Andy is the type of criminal that blames everyone else for his mistakes, and even when he was killing he always justified his actions. When he gets to the motel he does not suspect anything is wrong with the place and the author has a talent of concealing the horror that is soon to happen. When it happened; I was in shock as never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the creature that was lurking in room 249.

Sacrifice by Luke Swanson: Detective Flynn is renowned for investigating the evil of cases. Roger has retired to LA, but when a murdered child is found their meeting is not what was expected. The start of the story is an introduction to Roger, but after the child is found the story changes to Flynn’s investigation and you had the sense that Flynn as at breaking point. The author tied up the investigation neatly and I would enjoy to read more about Detective Flynn.

See you on the Flip Side by Carissa Ann Lynch: If you have read 13 then you will recognise the place where this story is set. Going back to Adventure Town we follow Donna as she goes on a camping trip with her boyfriend and family. The author has a way of playing on your fears and if you have a phobia of bugs then this story will definitely make you skin crawl. I loved the twist at the end when you think Donna has lost her mind and I could see a series about Adventure town.

Sinister by Taylor Henderson:  This story is a build up to a killer’s first murder. The story is about Karen, her neighbours Nate and Natalie and her best friend Marty. There are hints in this story that there is a potential serial killer when animals go missing and whilst Karen has her suspicions it is not till the end that we get to know who the murderer is.

Six Lie Broken by Brandon Nave: A group of men abducting a teenager, Savannah rescuing a young boy and with her best friend Vanessa throwing a party called the Harvest. This story had graphic scenes throughout and when you find the identity of the victims you do not have any sympathy for them. A unique story and I have learnt a new use for a hot spoon.

The Bad Man by Marissa Farrar: Sophie lived in a tunnel with 4 other children after being captured by the bad man. Why are they down there and who is scratching in the dark? Whilst reading this story you don’t know if the bad man is actually bad or if he saved the children. However; these children were living in squalor and would the outside world be better for them. The further you read the scratching noises are explained and the ending left me wanting to know more.

The Inheritance by DA Roach: Niki has just inherited a factory from her dad, believing it to be a curse, he did not want anything to do with it. This story follows Niki and her friends whilst they investigate the building. The story is full of suspense and has the feel that you are following the group as they go around the factory. The twist in the story involving Rya a demon who collects souls adds to this.

Under Mama’s Roof by Elizabeth Roderick: Tara had always had a mother ruling her life, but when she died she thought it was over. When things start happening around her home Tara suspected it was the ghost of her mother, but she did not expect it to get so out of control. A good ghost story with added twist.

Wicked Intentions by Sophia Valentine: April is due to give birth and without a job and a home, she turns to the father of her baby to help. But is he after her baby? Whilst I was reading this story I was on April’s side as the author wants you to believe that she is in danger. The story builds to a dramatic climax and you are left wandering who the real victim was.

Widow’s Prey by Erin Lee: There has always been something wrong with Tendra. She has never cried and has never showed emotion. Whilst you have an idea of what type of child she is, it is not until she is in college and gets her claws into Colby that you find out exactly what she is like. Tendra is one evil girl, only thinks of herself and what she wants she gets. This story reminds of a cat playing with its prey wearing them down until the killer blow, and the ending of the story is one of the most evil scenes that I have read in a while.

Another great anthology from Limitless.

Shattered Time Anthology by J. L. Clayton, Carissa Ann Lynch, Niki Livingston, Regina O’Connell, Ashlee Shades, Bradon Nave, Jeremy Simons, Joe Pranaitis, Genevieve Moultrie, T. Guthrie, D. A. Roach, Grace Charles.

March 13, 2017 - 12:52 am No Comments

Shattered Time Anthology by J. L. Clayton, Carissa Ann Lynch, Niki Livingston, Regina O’Connell, Ashlee Shades, Bradon Nave, Jeremy Simons, Joe Pranaitis, Genevieve MoultrieT. GuthrieD. A. Roach, Grace Charles.

Published 13th March 2017

475 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

I love reading anthologies as a way to find new authors, and although I have read quite a few of these authors there were a couple I did not recognise.

For this review, I will write about each story

Lines of Time and desire by JL Clayton: Londyn and Scott becomes friends, when Scott sends a text to the wrong person, over time their friendship becomes complicated. The way JL Clayton writes you can imagine the smaller details in the story, the giddy school girl smile when Londyn receives the texts, the desperation to meet. JL Clayton has got the knack when it comes to short stories and this was no different. Keeping the story interesting right to the end and still adding a gasp moment. Think a modern-day Lake house.

Homecoming by Carissa Ann Lynch: Astrid is in mourning, her life completely changed when her younger brother died, but with the help of an eccentric old lady, can she heal her family’s heartbreak. Whilst reading this story I felt so sorry for Astrid and her dad and could not imagine losing a child. Using the good old faithful old lady/ witch just added to this story because it was not until the end that you knew what her purpose was. The ending was an added shock as I had not got a clue how her brother died and what was the cause. A great story and I would love to read more stories about Alexandra.

A Web Through Time by Niki Livingstone: The first story with a sci-fi element. The year is 2025 Alex’s life is in danger and she does not know who to trust, can her going into the future save her life and the lives of others. Full of action and drama this had me turning the pages to see if Alex survives. Even though a future time, somethings like racism and segregation never change. As a short story this is a great introduction to Alex and I was left me wanting to read more of her story.

Willow and The Forbidden Portal by Regina O’Connell: Willow is an herbalist, with the help of her herbs she spends her time trying to save people’s lives. However, one day it all goes wrong and she is running for her life, after being branded a witch. The story flows smoothly and due to the descriptive writing, you can imagine following Willow on her journey. A magical romance that will make you look at ancient trees differently.

Cassandra’s Choice by Ashlee Shades: Cassandra was a strong-willed woman who met her match when she woke up in the 19th century. An historical romance, I enjoyed this story very much as I liked the mixture of attitudes between the centuries. The Duke was your typical 19th century gent who although had an attitude, still knew where his manners were. Hopefully Cassandra got her HEA

The Secrets Crows Keep by Bradon Nave: Mildred was haunted by secrets and it was not until a visitor came, that she had to come to terms with what she did. Throughout this story, my mind was trying to work out, how she travelled in time and why did she have a hatred for her husband. Whilst reading this story I found Mildred to be one dangerous lady. I love the spin with Time travel and explanation of Mildred and the visitor’s connection. Although if you went into the Secrets Crow keep, you would get quite a shock.

Bridging the Gap by Jeremy Simons: Not happy with his life, all Garrett wanted to do was to kill himself by jumping off a bridge, but when he finds a portal that could help change is future, he gets more than he bargains for. This was one of my favourite stories and whilst reading it I found Garret to be a self-indulgent petty person and he should have been grateful to have Terry as a friend. This story use the theme that there are consequences when you use time travel to change your past. A great ending which tied up this story perfectly.

Time’s Launch by Joe Pranaitis: Another Sci-fi theme. Captain Dyson was commanding the 1st ship with Time travel technology and on its maiden voyage, it all goes terribly wrong. This story had a Star-Trek feel to it, from the ship’s technology to the captain who is curious to investigate what is going on. I liked the idea that he found a source of information that would explain what went on with the ship and that the ending left it open for the reader to imagine what happened next, or is there more to this story.

The Salesman by DA Roach: Melanie had an accident and since that day she cannot forgive herself. After a chance meeting with a salesman can she move on with her life. The way the author told Melaine’s story had you willing the purchase to work. With every change to Melanie’s life explained, the twist at the end was a total surprise. A moving story, that you won’t want to finish.

One Cockroach left by Genevieve Moultrie: Ratsor, an alien botanist, was filming another species but after a nasty accident she stumbled on something that changed her whole attitude on life. Ratsor was a likeable character who due to her job loved to explore and valued life. The description of her land was beautifully written and you could imagine all the vibrant colours of the creatures that she saw. Yet another story that had a surprise ending but I could only imagine what happened after.

Time by Grace Charles: To aid the discussion between Space, Creation and Time the love story between Vida and Mort was used. This was a well written story, with love at first sight, a number of twist and an ending where you can imagine what happened next, this kept me turning the pages. The relationship between Vida and Mort was genuine and although complete opposites made a really great couple. A new author to me

Whispers of Forever by T Guthrie: Layla was summoned to her Great Aunt’s Victorian mansion, suffering with Déjà vu, can her visions and her fascination with the man of her dreams, help her solve the mystery. You are drawn into this story from the moment that you start to read, an old mansion, the creepy butler and the tragic deaths, having you wondering what Layla has let herself in for. The visions that Layla has help explain the story and the author has a way of keeping the secret till right at the end. Even with clues scattered throughout the story. I still did not guess, what/who had caused the tragedy. I am looking forward to reading more from this author

With a mixture of genres, it just goes to show that not all time travel is Sci-fi. This anthology should please the majority of genre lovers and if like me, you love finding new authors then this anthology is for you.

SLOW BULLETS by Alastair Reynolds.

March 10, 2017 - 9:02 pm No Comments

SLOW BULLETS by Alastair Reynolds.

Gollancz, London. 16th February 2016. £12.95 paperback, £6.99 e-book.

182 page. ISBN: 978-1-473-21842-0

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

 

There is almost a sub-genre of SF which deals exclusively with war scenarios. These might be between aliens and humans or between human colonies. As with all these adventures, various assumptions are made, one of which being a method of interstellar travel which gets ships from one place to another quickly. There is no point in sending out the troops when the enemy may have extinguished itself before the force arrives. Readers don’t worry about the technology involved; it is the action that counts, and the number of corpses that results. This is not normally the territory that Alastair Reynolds usually ventures into so it is refreshing to find that in this novelette, this is just the background against which the characters have been shaped.

As the story opens, a ceasefire has been declared. The factions are no longer officially at war. Always, though, there are renegades who will push the limits, feigning ignorance about the actual state of affairs, simply because they enjoy what they do and don’t see why they have to stop. Orvin likes hurting people. On the cusp of peace he has captured Scur, a soldier from the other side. He knows all about her because all soldiers are fitted with slow bullets. These devices are a futuristic version of dog tags. They contain all information about the person they are inside and it can easily be read. Normally, they move at a very slow speed through the body so that the tissues are barely disrupted. Orvin’s method of torture is to insert one going faster and causing excruciating pain during its passage. When Orvin has to leave in a hurry she has the opportunity to try and cut it out.

This is just a precursor to real action and an introduction to the device which is to play an essential part in the plot. Scur wakes up aboard a military prison shop. She and the other ‘passengers’ are being transported as cargo to Tottori in hibernation. What initially seems to be a simple problem with the ship becomes more serious as she and the remnants of crew discover that they have been drifting in orbit for hundreds of years, that all the surviving sleepers are being revived. Amongst them are war criminals from both sides, as well as civilians, and to them the reasons (basically very trivial) of the conflict are clear in their minds as well as the hatred for their perceived enemies. Among them is Orvin. Scur and her new colleagues have multiple problems to solve if they are to survive, the biggest one is to overcome the problem that the ships systems are slowly leaking information and they need to find ways of preserving it. To do that a compromise needs to be found so that the different factions are able to work together.

In this book, Reynolds wraps a number of themes in a relatively few pages. Some of them will feel like familiar tropes from the SF catalogue but it is the way that he deals with them that is original. For those who do not want to face one of Reynolds’ huge tomes as an introduction to his work, this a good place to start to get an idea of his style and ingenuity before embarking on such as Revelation Space series. Then get stuck in to the rest of his oeuvre.

Originally published in 2015 as a chap-book by Tachyon Press, it has already accumulated a number of well-deserved awards and nominations.