Dinero Del Mar by Garnett Elliott

Dinero Del Mar by Garnett Elliott

This cover perfectly sums up the washed up drifter detective Jack Laramie. Like a lot of detectives in noir stories Jack Laramie is drinking to forget. I find this frustrating in some books because there seems to be no reason and it is just a sulky response to a hard life. Portions of the back-story are scattered through this book in a way that draws you in and puts Jack’s drifting in to context. I really appreciated that.

Although there are two stories in this book they are inter-connected and this led to an ending that was completely unexpected but absolutely perfect. The first story is set at a beauty contest that is scarier and more extreme than those reality show versions on recently. Jack gets screwed in more ways than one and ends up in the cooler. This leads him nicely in to the second story. This one is set in a bohemian estate and showed that it doesn’t matter how rich or well bred people are the same impulses hold sway.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anybody that enjoys crime noir.

 

 

Burning by Joan De La Haye

Burning by Joan De La Haye

Sometimes with a novella like this the cover art is an afterthought and feels discombobulated. Not only does this cover look good and relate to the story but the back cover is the rear of the tarot card pictured on the front. Time, effort and skill went in to this cover and that made me want so see inside.

I don’t read much erotic fiction. Partly because I can feel myself blushing as I read the raunchy bits but mainly because I’d rather read about gruesome murders. The bonus for me in this book is that the sex scenes are all part of the setup for the murders. For me this story is a bit like a sparkly vampire story except instead of mooning around after abs of steel the women are making best use of those bodies and instead of a little love bite there is the whole essence sucking death thing going on. So maybe not like a sparkly vampire story. Much better than that.

This story is set in South Africa and it was interesting to see a Wicca coven portrayed in much the way I would expect over here. I don’t know if that was a deliberate affectation or whether those aspects of paganism exist in South Africa. I’ll certainly be trying to find that out later.

This book was outside my comfort zone. I try to read things that I wouldn’t normally read once in a while. This book has left me thinking that I wouldn’t mind reading horror stories with a more erotic slant in the future. This book doesn’t take long to read and it will leave you wanting more.

Potatoes edited by Stewart Hotston

Potates

This cover screams for attention. From the ludicrous name to absurdity of the cover art. Potatoes do not grow in skulls, do they? This cover should be terrible but there is something in the layering of the photography and illustration that somehow makes the reader look at it for much longer than they should. This made it the ideal cover for this book. How on earth can anybody take an anthology about and even titled potatoes seriously? It was never going to happen.

Why potatoes? You’ll have to buy the book and read the introduction to find out.

I had a pre-conception that this book would contain a series of stories that replaced an object in the story with a potato. Thankfully this was not the case. Nearly all of these stories were obviously written with potatoes as the post important thing about them. From twisting morality tales to first contact with a new sentient race this collection has a diverse array of imaginative stories to tickle those taste buds.

I found this book quite inspiring. A good story-teller can turn any story in to an enchanting tale and this is a great example of that. It is cheaper than a frothy coffee and much more interesting.

 

The Girl at the End of the World Book 2 edited by Adele Wearing

The Girl At The End of the World Part Two

The Girl At The End of the World Part Two

This is as you could probably tell from the title was the second part of the of Girl At The End of the World. It was darker than the first, had longer stories than the first and had more pages than any other Fox Spirit anthology so far. I usually have to think quite hard about my favourite story in a collection like this but for me there was a clear favourite. The Sharks of Market Street by Michael Ezell had me enthralled from start to finish. In my head it was like Waterworld meets Sharkanado with a plot and characters added in. There were plenty of other stories that I enjoyed and there were moments that despite the darkness I laughed. Alec McQuay’s Bunker Buster took the BGF from DOOM to another level and I liked it. There wasn’t a single story I disliked in this book.

The book was broken down in to three sections. Each had a different feel. Moving from fantasy through urban apocalypse and science fiction to the finale at the end of time this book had a flow and a rhythm that somehow managed to tie such diverse stories in to an almost seamless narrative. When I had a flick through before reading it I wasn’t sure about the ending having two much shorter stories after all the longer ones but it worked really well and there was a sense of a conclusion that is rarely as clear in an anthology.

This was a dark and at times gritty collection that really made me think about what the end of the world really means. For a publisher that has always avoided the pitfalls of the misogynistic side of disasters this book twists and turned through  a myriad ways that that women could avoid that and in one story flipped the situation to expertly show that it was the acts themselves regardless of the gender in control that are to be feared and avoided.

I’m off to pack my go-bag now.

Worms edited by Alex Davis

Worms edited by Alex Davis

I have never seen worms as being at all scary before. Tonight I really don’t fancy opening the composter in case there are worms on the surface. I’m still not sure about the cover of this book. Is that a single worm with two mouths or two worms. If two are they going to fight for their food? It is the kind of cover that makes me stop and look again and that is a good thing.

This anthology starts off with possibly the best title short story I’ve ever read. How can you beat Zombie Worms Ate My Hamster? On one hand it is really simple but there is as just something about the way that the words hang together that makes me want to say it again. Zombie Worms Ate My Hamster. After reading that title I had high hopes for that story and K.T. Davies did not disappoint. It was fun and disturbing in equal measure and a real pleasure to read. It was a great way to start a book and was my favourite story.

Each story within this collection feels different. They interpret how worms can be scary in very different ways and yet there is a nice flow between the stories. For less than the price of a frothy coffee it is a great way to spend a lunchtime or two.

Hollow Space Book 1: Venture (Xantoverse) by C.F. Barnes & T.F. Grant

Hollow Space Book 1

Hollow Space Book 1

The cover for this book makes it pretty clear what kind of book this is. As I started to read this book I couldn’t help relate the worm hole type effect and the space station to Deep Space Nine but it became apparent pretty quickly that it wasn’t anything like that. The technological retardation effect of hollow space is a great twist. Almost a steampunk feel to the far future. There is so much potential there and I can easily see how this could become a great series.

Some stories written by two authors can be clunky and obvious in the way they switch between the voices. There was one voice and the story flowed really well. The final quarter in particular was really well paced and almost impossible to put down. This book does have some dark and very nasty sections but in general there is a lightness and uplifting quality to this story.

This is a self-contained story with an ending but it is pretty clear that there are story arcs that are only going to be fully revealed in further books and personally I can’t wait to read them. The characters were vivid and interesting and the relationship between Kina and Sara felt a lot more passionate and real than can be found in a lot of similar novels.

This is a well written and fun read with just enough bite to keep the tension high.

Girl at the End of the World: Book 1 edited by Adele Wearing

The Girl At The End Of The World

The Girl At The End Of The World

There are two covers for this and the second volume of this book. I love them both but I probably prefer the other cover for the first volume. I’ve posted this picture though as I know I’ll read the second book and I will not post the other style cover for the second book because it has something on it I hate. Images of people smoking turn me right off. If it was the only cover option I would not buy the second book on that basis. We all have our petty dislikes. All that said I could sit here just looking at this superbly done wrap-around cover design for ages.

I think I’ve read all of the Fox Spirit collections and there is a certain feel to them. A darkness tinged with some acerbic humour.  This collection is darker and more serious until you get to the very end. There is a sudden release of tension as you near the end. Then come the author bios. I always read them. They are usually dry and uninformative. Sometimes though there is a gem or two that makes me want to find out more about an author. I challenge you to read these and not chuckle when you get to Kate Laity. I did.

Usually when I read an anthology like this I have a clear couple of favourites. I’m struggling to raise any above the rest in this one though. There is a consistent quality throughout. The biggest surprise for me though was All Things Fall  by Chloë Yates. I am used to a tongue in cheek filthy humour from this author but this was a poignant and thought provoking writing of a different style. I hope to read more  stories like that.

I enjoyed the intensity of this book and will be looking out for more work by several of the authors.