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REVIEW: DEADLOCKED 1 BY A.R WISE

deadlocked

Deadlocked 1 by A.R Wise

Kobo (e-book) 2011

54 pages 

http://arwisebooks.com

This was a free e-book from www.kobo.com. 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

David was caught in the middle of the city when the zombie outbreak started. His wife and daughters were at home, stranded on the roof as zombies waited below. He would have to fight through hordes of undead, merciless other survivors, and a series of death defying stunts to get home. However, even if he makes it there, how can he be sure they’re safe?

Deadlocked puts you into David’s head as he struggles to get home. Then a final confrontation occurs that will guarantee his family’s survival, but at what cost? 

EXTRACT 

The apocalypse began when people were stabbed by tiny needles in crowded subways. Victims reported a stinging sensation on their thigh, as if someone in the crowd had jabbed them. They returned home to discover a swelling, purple lesion where the sting had occurred. Most people didn’t pay attention to it the first day, but the infection spread quickly and soon the sick crowded ER rooms around the world.

REVIEW 

I enjoyed Wise’s series, 314 so much I decided to try his other series of zombie-apocalypse novellas, Deadlocked. I have an uneasy relationship with zombie apocalypses. I tend to hate movies featuring a zombie apocalypse with the exception of 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. I like post-apocalyptic fiction – unless it features zombies. However, one of the strengths of 314 was Wise’s skill as a writer and the originality of his ideas. Deadlocked 1 was a well-written, original and interesting as 314. There are no big heroes wielding weapons of mass destruction in Deadlocked 1 or groups of survivors coming together to form a new civilisation. Deadlocked 1 is the tale of David, an ordinary guy trying to get home to his wife and daughters when the world turns to shit around him. David doesn’t even realise the crazy people around him are zombies at first. He knows people are turning on each other and is determined to get home to his family. I thought David’s reaction to events was realistic and very believable. I found it sad when his best friend fall into a mob of zombies and is torn to pieces. I enjoyed the various challenges he faces until he reaches his family. Deadlocked 1 has a very surprising ending. I look forward to reading the entire Deadlocked series. 

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in A.R Wise, E-book, Fiction, Novella

 

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REVIEW: SEE RIGHT THROUGH ME BY L.T. SMITH

See Right Through Me- Draft2

See Right Through Me by LT. Smith

Ylva Publishing (paperback) 2012

287 pages 

http://www.ylva-publishing.com

http://www.ylva-publishing.com/authors/l-t-smith 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Trust, respect, and love.

Three little words—that’s all. But these words are powerful, and if we ignore any one of them, then three other little words take their place: jealousy, insecurity, and heartbreak.

Schoolteacher Gemma Hughes is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Disorganised and clumsy, she soon finds herself in the capable hands of the beautiful Dr Maria Moran. Everything goes wonderfully until Gemma starts doubting Maria’s intentions and begins listening to the wrong people.

But has Maria something to hide, or is it a case of swapping trust for insecurity, respect for jealousy and finishing with a world of heartbreak and deceit? Can Gemma stop her actions before it’s too late? Or will she ruin the best thing to happen in her life?

Given her track record, anything is possible … 

EXTRACT 

TUESDAY. FIVE-FORTY PM. SITTING in a room with sniffers and moaners and moaners and not feeling too bloody happy to be amongst the germ ridden, I can tell you. But it couldn’t be avoided; there was no other way. If there were, I would have done it. Believe me.

REVIEW 

Smith’s novels are my secret indulgence – lesbian romantic fiction. Romantic fiction of any kind is usually something I’d go out of my way to avoid. There’s something appealing about Smith’s work. I like the humour and Britishness of her work. See Right Through Me is no exception. I really liked the way the story developed. Gemma, the main character and Dr Maria Moran, her love interest are two broken women who fall in love before they fall into bed. I liked the way their relationship developed. I liked how Maria’s jealous ex tried to break them up by sending a poison pen letter. I liked the crazy, stalker-like nurse. See Right Through Me is a fun, sweet, tender novel about the transforming power of love. See Right Through Me makes a nice change of pace from the usual stuff I read. I really enjoyed it. 

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Fiction, L.T. Smith, Novel

 

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REVIEW: EVIL EYE – FOUR NOVELLAS OF LOVE GONE WRONG BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

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Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong by Joyce Carol Oates

The Mysterious Press (hardback), 2013

216 Pages 

http://www.usfca.edu/jco

http://www.usfca.edu/jco/evileye

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Joyce Carol Oates has proven herself one of the world’s foremost chroniclers of the darkness that lurks within the human heart. In Evil Eye, Oates offers four chilling novellas of love so powerful that people might die—or kill—for it.

In the title story, we meet Mariana, the young fourth wife of a prominent intellectual. When her husband’s brazen first wife visits, Mariana learns a terrible secret that threatens her marriage and sanity. In “so Near Any Time Always,” shy teenager Lizbeth meets Desmond, a charming older boy who offers this introverted girl her first sparks of romance. Yet just as their relationship begins to blossom, Lizbeth realizes that a menacing soul lies beneath Desmond’s perfect façade. In “The Execution,” spoiled college student Bart Hansen has planned the perfect, brutal crime to get back at his parents for their years of condescension. What he didn’t plan on was the resilience of his mother’s love, even in the face of death. And in “The Flatbed,” childhood trauma has prevented Cecelia from enjoying the pleasures of physical intimacy with a man, but when the love of her life comes along, Cecelia must confront the demon who stole her innocence long ago.

Drenched with suspense and dread, and featuring the razor-sharp prose that has made Joyce Carol Oates a living legend, Evil Eye shows love as sporadically magical, mysterious, and murderous.

EXTRACT 

It had belonged to his first wife, he’d said.

First wife so casually uttered – she, who was the fourth wife, could have no basis for misinterpretation.

That is, no basis for hurt. For envy, jealousy. Even, the husband seemed to suggest, in the almost negligent way in which he spoke of the first wife to whom he’d been married, a lifetime ago, when we were other people –curiosity.

And so, she’d known not to ask about the wife.

EVIL EYE

REVIEW 

EVIL EYE: I didn’t think this was a very good tale. I liked some aspects of it. I like the way JCO examined the relationship between the husband and his first and most recent wife. I like the fact the husband was quite domineering and abusive. The rest of the novella was quite weak. I didn’t understand what big secret the new wife discovered that almost cost her sanity. JCO never makes this quite clear so I found the tale confusing overall. Did the new wife hallucinate that the first wife had an eye missing or was the eye really removed and who by? The husband? Someone else? Did the husband really kill his first child by intentionally rolling the baby on its front so it would suffocate? There is some good stuff here but it gets lost in the confusing mess.

SO NEAR ANY TIME ALWAYS: This was a very good story. Dark, creepy and unsettling. I liked the way JCO builds tension. Some elements remind me of her novel, Because It Is Bitter, And Because It Is My Heart.

THE EXECUTION: I really enjoyed this story that deals with patricide. The story gets pretty dark at times. I liked the fact it was told from the son’s point of view. I found it odd that the mother identified her son as her attacker and her husband’s killer then changed her mind completely. Did she really think it was a dream? Was she too afraid to face the truth about what happened? Did her son threaten her in some way?

THE FLATBED: I thought this story was really good. I thought that woman’s fear of sex and penetration because of repressed childhood memories of abuse was very realistic and well-written. The story took a much darker turn than expected at the end.

GENERAL IMPRESSION: I thought this was an overall good collection of four novellas. However, the weak title tale spoiled my overall enjoyment and let JCO down. This could have been a great collection if Evil Eye was not included. 

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates, Novella

 

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REVIEW: LOSING YOU BY SUSAN LEWIS

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Losing You by Susan Lewis

Arrow Books (paperback) 2012

644 pages 

http://www.susanlewis.com 

I borrowed this book from The Mitchell Library (http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/libraries/the-mitchell-library/pages/home.aspx).  

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Lauren Scott is bright, talented and beautiful. At eighteen, she is the most precious gift in the world to her mother, and has a dazzling career ahead of her.

Oliver Lomax is a young man full of promise, despite the shadow his own, deeply troubled, mother casts over him.

Then one fateful night, Oliver makes a decision that tears their worlds apart.

Until then, Lauren and Oliver had never met, but now they become so closely bound together that their families are forced to confront truths they hoped they’d never have to face, secrets they’d never even imagined… 

EXTRACT 

‘Guess what? I have had the most brilliant idea!’

Lauren Scott’s exquisite amber eyes were sparkling with mischief as she breezed into the kitchen, where her mother was engrossed on the computer.

REVIEW

I enjoyed Losing You. Losing You does have some flaws but overall I enjoyed the novel. I’ve never read Susan Lewis before. Losing You is a proper tear-jerker and tugs at the old heart strings. I connected with Losing You on an emotional level and it’s hard not to enjoy something that touches you. Losing You is very well written and easy to follow. I found myself turning the pages fairly quickly. I got caught up in the world and characters Lewis created and wasn’t bored at any point. I liked how Lewis showed the affect the drink driving accident had on both Lauren, the victim and Oliver, the driver who hit her. They are both deeply affected and forever changed. Losing You could easily have been one sided with Lauren the perfect, wonderful angel on one side and Oliver, the drunk, reckless monster on the other. I like the contrasts in both families. I thought Sylvie, Oliver’s lush mother was very well written and realistic and I felt sorry for her. Lauren’s father was a horrible person especially when he says terrible things to Lauren when she’s recovering in a brain unit. Now to the stuff that didn’t work. Losing You does not really kick off until over 170 pages in. The novel starts painfully slowly and to be honest at least 150 pages could have been cut with no ill effect. Losing You should have started just before the accident as everything until this point was superfluous. I really didn’t like Lauren at first. We are told, over and over for hundreds of pages how wonderful she is; beautiful, talented, a wonderful daughter and designed for a dazzling career. Her portrayal in the first hundred or so pages made me feel quite nauseous. Nobody is that perfect and I found it unrealistic. I was relieved when her diary revealed that she was far from the angel everyone believed her to be. Her flaws were more realistic. I thought Lauren and Oliver’s relationship was sweet but had trouble believing they fell in love when she was in a coma and unable to speak, move or communicate. I thought that was far-fetched. Overall, Losing You is a decent novel and packs an emotional punch. 

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Fiction, Novel, Susan Lewis

 

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REVIEW: SNOW WHITE, BLOOD RED EDITED BY ELLEN DATOW & TERRI WINDLING

snow_white_blood_red_3

Snow White, Blood Red Edited By Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Avon Books (Paperback), 1993

406 Pages 

Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/snow_white,_blood_red_(book)

http://ellendatlow.com

Http://windling.typepad.com/blog

 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

 

Once upon a time, fairy tales were for children… But no longer. 

You hold in your hands a volume of wonders – magical tales of trolls and ogres, of bewitched princesses and kingdoms accursed, penned by some of the most acclaimed fantasists of our day. But these are not bedtime stories designed to usher an innocent child gently into a realm of dreams. These are stories that bite – lush and erotic; often dark and disturbing mystical journeys through a phantasmagoric landscape of distinctly adult sensibilities… where there is no such thing a ‘happy ever after’.

 

EXTRACT 

AT A TIME NOT SO LONG AGO, IN A LAND MUCH LIKE our own, there was a cottage at the edge of a dark, haunted forest.

LIKE A RED, RED ROSE BY SUSAN WADE

REVIEW 

I really enjoyed Snow White, Blood Red. I’m a huge fan of fairy tales. The darker and the more twisted the better as far as I’m concerned. I’ve read a few volumes in this series and tend to be impressed. Snow White, Blood Red met the high standard I’ve come to expect. This was a great collection of stories.

LIKE A RED, RED ROSE BY SUSAN WADE: I thought this story was great. Sad, haunting and beautiful.

THE MOON IS DROWNING WHILE I SLEEP BY CHARLES DE LINT: Another great story. Creepy and unsettling.

THE FROG PRINCE BY GAHAN WILSON: I thought this was a fun and original slant on the traditional fairytale.

STALKING BEANS BY NANCY KRESS: I loved this story. Another great twist on the popular tale.

SNOW-DROP BY TANITH LEE: I loved this story. I found it creepy and unsettling but I loved every word on every page.

LITTLE RED BY WENDY WHEELER: This was one of my favourite stories. Wheeler takes us out of the realm of fantasy into a real world of predatory men.

I SHALL DO THEE MISCHIEF IN THE WOOD BY KATHE KOJA: I loved this story as well. I thought the title was great. A cautionary tale of being careful of what you wish for.

THE ROOT OF THE MATTER BY GREGORY FROST: This was a great story as well. I thought it was sad and really creepy. This one chilled me to the bone.

THE PRINCESS IN THE TOWER BY ELIZABETH A. LYNN: This was a great and original take on Rapunzel. I loved it.

PERSIMMON BY HARVEY JACOBS: I really enjoyed this story. I thought it was and interesting.

LITTLE POUCET BY STEVE RASNIC TEM: I thought this was a great story and it reminded me a lot of Thumbelina.

THE CHANGELINGS BY MELANIE TEM: This was one of the best and most unsettling stories in the collection.

THE SPRINGFIELD SWANS BY CAROLINE STEVERMER & RYAN EDMONDS: This was a great, original story. Very different.

TROLL BRIDGE BY NEIL GAIMAN: Another twist and very original tale. I loved it.

A SOUND LIKE ANGELS SINGING BY LEONARD RYSDYK: This was a great, creepy little story.

PUSS BY ESTHER M. FRIESNER: This story didn’t work for me and I thought it was quite weak.

THE GLASS CASKET BY JACK DANN: Another ‘so, so’ story.

KNIVES BY JANE YOLEN: I thought this poem was great.

THE SNOW QUEEN BY PATRICIA A. MCKILLIP: This was one of my favourite stories. The Snow Queen is my absolute favourite fairytale.

BREADCRUMBS AND STONES BY LISA GOLDSTEIN: Another original and great story. Very different.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 

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REVIEW: THE ASSASSINS – A BOOK OF HOURS BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

ASSASSINS

The Assassins: A Book of Hours by Joyce Carol Oates

Fawcett Crest Books (paperback) 1975

544 pages

http://www.usfca.edu/jco  

BLURB FROM THE COVER

He was the bright star of a famous family, and a respected political leader – but suddenly he was dead, shot down by an assassin.

With Andrew Petrie’s murder, the lives of three persons were forever changed.

Yvonne – his wife. A strange, lovely woman with a hidden past. Her future careened wildly off course with the catastrophe.

Hugh – Andrew’s brother. An artist whose macabre, self-destructive drives bore a bizarre connection to Andrew’s murder.

Stephen – the youngest of the Petries. A religious mystic. His brother’s death brought him face to face with terrifying truths about himself. 

EXTRACT 

Part One: Hugh

I was born. It was born. So it began. It continues. It will outlive me. People whisper, stare, giggle. Their eternal privilege. My eternal curse. I am in a tiny place without walls. It is stifling here – but the walls are gone.

REVIEW 

I have mixed feelings about The Assassins: A Book of Hours. On the one hand I like it a lot but there are things that just left me cold. The Assassins: A Book of Hours is a difficult book to get on board with. The Assassins: A Book of Hours is a very bleak book, much bleaker that other JCO novels. Nothing good happens to anyone in this novel. The characters are all pretty awful even Andrew the man who was assassinated. Hugh is insane and his section of The Assassins: A Book of Hours was extremely hard to follow. Yvonne is quite an abrasive person and I found it hard to sympathise with her or care that she was also murdered in the woods (unless it was a dream or a hallucination and who cares). I didn’t much like Stephen either. JCO does not have anything good to say about anyone or anything in The Assassins: A Book of Hours. She managed to tear family, sex, politics, art and religion into shreds. Despite this I did like The Assassins: A Book of Hours a lot. I liked the multiple first person narrators though I found it odd that even though each character experienced the same events at times the stories never really jelled together. I like her use of stream of consciousness style even though I’m not a great fan of this type of narration. The Assassins: A Book of Hours is the first novel I’ve read (to my knowledge) that deals with the world of politics so I found this interesting. The Assassins: A Book of Hours is not a great novel but I think it’s a brave novel and worth a read.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2014 in Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates, Novel, Uncategorized

 

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REVIEW: THE DAMNED THING BY AMBROSE BIERCE

damned

THE DAMNED THING BY AMBROSE BIERCE

PROJECT GUTENBERG (E-BOOK), 2013

32 PAGES 

I downloaded this free e-book: HTTP://WWW.GUTENBERG.ORG/EBOOKS/23172

BLURB FROM THE COVER 

William Harker is the only witness to the death of his friend, Hugh Morgan. Morgan’s body suggests that he has died traumatically, but when Harker tries to explain what he saw of his friend’s last moments, the men in charge of determining Morgan’s cause of death find his testimony too bizarre to be true. 

EXTRACT 

By THE light of a tallow candle, which had been placed on one end of a rough table, a man was reading something written in a book. It was an old account book, greatly worn; and the writing was not, apparently, very legible, for the man sometimes held the page close to the flame of the candle to get a stronger light upon it. The shadow of the book would then throw into obscurity a half of the room, darkening a number of faces and figures; for besides the reader, eight other men were present. Seven of them sat against the rough log walls, silent and motionless, and, the room being small, not very far from the table. By extending an arm any one of them could have touched the eighth man, who lay on the table, face upward, partly covered by a sheet, his arms at his sides. He was dead. 

REVIEW 

This was my first time reading Ambrose Bierce. I really enjoyed The Damned Thing. I liked the story-within-a-story framework that Bierce uses. I was impressed by the way Bierce explores society’s perception of the supernatural. Harker’s tale about what really happened to his friend is frightening but the coroner and men investigating the cause of death refuse to believe a word of his testimony. It is clear Morgan died in violent, traumatic circumstances and the inquest would rather believe an animal killed him in a frenzied attack than put any stock in Harker’s bizarre tale. I thought the ending of The Damned Thing wasn’t as good as the beginning and middle and the story disappointingly fizzled out. 

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 

 
 

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