Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Review: Things We Fear by Glenn Rolfe

Things We Fear - Glenn Rolfe
Things We Fear by Glenn Rolfe

My Rating:

Summer has just begun, and fear is in season.

School’s out, and the faculty at Fairington Elementary School are free for the summer. Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her classroom, but she’s afraid of being hurt again. Meanwhile, Aaron is determined not to let his phobia of drowning prevent him from enjoying the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town.

But they’re about to learn real fear. Fairington is home to a monster. Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes has more to offer the ladies than a perfect smile. He’s a killer and he’s got his sights set on Emily. Who at Fairington will conquer their fears? And who will fall to a psychopath’s hellbent rage?

I received a free copy of Things We Fear from the publisher in return for an honest review. 

I usually enjoy Glenns books, his book Blood and Rain was one of my favourite reads of last year, but for some reason I just wasn't feeling this one. I think I prefer the horror Glenn to the more subtle thriller Glenn that is Things We Fear.

For me a good story has to be either character driven, plot driven, or preferably both, and I struggled to find that in Things We Fear. There wasn't enough substance there to draw me in. The plot needed expanding. I wanted more tension and suspense. I wanted to fear what was around the corner, to feel dread and anticipation for what was to come but it wasn't there.

I felt there was a lack of character development. I didn't get to know anyone well enough to make them stand out as individuals or care about what happened to them, and I also had a problem with the unbelievability of the characters reactions and their inability to see the obvious. It just didn't ring true for me. There was also a lack of imagery, I couldn't picture the environment very well at all. I knew where the characters were and what was happening but I couldn't visualise it or experience it.

I realise it's a novella and you can't squeeze great character development and visuals etc into just 85 pages, something has to give, but in this case I think it gave too much. There is potential here for a decent thriller, especially knowing what Glenn is capable of, but as it is it didn't work for me.

Purchase Things We Fear:  AmazonUS   AmazonUK   Barnes & Noble  Samhain

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Praise for Things We Fear

"Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I've encountered in recent years." -- Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh

"Glenn Rolfe's new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die)." -- Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage

"Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I've read about in recent times." -- Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid

"Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well. His previous books – Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town and Blood and Rain – have also served to show the extensive breadth of his imagination and Things We Fear carries on that trend. Quite simply, each story is fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable." -- Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel

"In this frighteningly real look at true horror, Rolfe manages to up the ante of tension while balancing genuinely heartbreaking moments, while showcasing his talent for creating unforgettable characters placed in equally unforgettable moments." -- David, Beneath The Underground

"There is a definite old school feel about this novella. It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax." -Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror


Biography of Glenn Rolfe

"Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and his latest, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will also be released in March 2016. His next book, Chasing Ghosts, will be coming by 2017.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Review: Dastardly Bastard by Edward Lorn

Dastardly Bastard - Edward Lorn

Dastardly Bastard by Edward Lorn

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Dastardly Bastard from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Dastardly Bastard was somewhat of a surreal read for me, something I'm not used to from this author. All the previous books by Lorn I've read have had a real feel to them, not in the sense that it could really happen but more that I was present. This one felt different. I didn't feel connected to the characters in the way that I usually do. Don't get me wrong, the characters were well developed but I just didn't feel for them. I wasn't immersed in the events or part of the story like I am normally when reading this author. I was watching from the sidelines. I think it may be because a lot of the story was the characters reliving their memories and the manipulation of their memories, it had the effect of separating me from them and what was going on. Personally I like to feel present, which I didn't experience but that's not the fault of the book it's just my personal preference.

It's a hard one to rate as I have mixed feelings. I enjoyed the story, the pacing was consistent, the dialogue natural and the humour was great but it was more of a words on the page story than the immersive experience that I have enjoyed in all of Lorns other books.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Into the Dim - Janet B. Taylor

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Into the Dim from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The premise of Into the Dim really intrigued me. It's claimed to be the Outlander of the YA genre. A time travel story set in Scotland. It has to be good, right?

I had high hopes for this one but in the end I was both disappointed and frustrated. I really enjoy time travel stories and that aspect of Into the Dim was OK, not great but not overly bad either. The way the stories interweave and jump back and forth was for the most part done well and not hard to follow. Where I did have huge problems was with the whole set in Scotland part. I'm Scottish born and bred, I've lived in Scotland my whole life so perhaps I'm harder to please when it comes to the dialect etc but I found the dialect and portrayal of the Scots in this book to be way off the mark. The Scots dialect got me more and more annoyed the further I read. You don't want to know how many pages of highlights I have marked!

Apparently being Scottish means we either talk like Yoda: "It's happy we are to finally have you here." "But I'm knowing one thing for certain." "And it's pleased we are to have you here." Or use the word "bloody" all the time in our conversations: bloody cold, bloody brilliant, bloody queen, bloody big emerald, bloody amazing, bloody bizarre, bloody wanker, bloody damn, the list goes on. That's more an English thing than a Scottish thing, and even then it's way over used here. And don't even get me started on the "Cheese an' crackers!" or "How in the name of Mary and Bride.." and "Hill of beans." Don't know where the heck the author found those. In the name of the wee man, yes, but in the name of Mary and bride?

Add to that the over use of pure: pure sorry, pure furious, pure tired, pure unusual. The only Scot you'll hear saying "pure" anything are wee neds from Glasgow. And baked beans for breakfast. It's the norm? Perhaps with the occasional full Scots breakfast fry up and certainly not with a fried egg and jam piece. Boke! We have the same as everyone else, you know cereal, toast, fruit and often porridge. And it's clootie dumpling here in Scotland, not spotted dick.

The language in general just didn't work for me. The characters go back in time and just magically understand the dialects and nuances of the people of that time. They don't stand out despite the fact that they don't adapt their language to that of the times. There's a lot of little things like the use of "Okay" in the dialogue in the year 1145. Okay wasn't in use until 1840 and not well known and used commonly until the 1880's.

(Few Americanisms have been more successful than OK, which survived the political campaign of 1840 that fostered it, quickly lost its political significance, and went on to develop use as a verb, adverb, noun, and interjection. The expression was well known in England by the 1880s. - Dictionary.com)

A character traveling back in time using the word "Okay" would stand out and draw attention to themselves but here it's just brushed over.

Authors if you are going to set your story in another country, using a dialect you are not familiar with, please do proper research. Ask someone who lives there and uses the dialect for advice or find a beta reader who is also familiar with it. The Scots in this book is awful, it's like a cross between Outlander (exaggerated and outdated), Rab C Nesbitt, gibberish and English slang.

I cannot stress enough the importance of research, it would have made a world of difference here. Instead it seems like the author has taken silly stereotypes and ran with it, then thrown in a little Yoda for the hell of it.

Not one I would recommend.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Review: Unseemly by Jason Parent

Unseemly - Jason  Parent

 Unseemly by Jason Parent

My Rating:

I had the pleasure of beta reading Unseemly and was gifted a copy of the book after release by the author.

What stood out the most for me in Unseemly was the setting, imagery and storytelling. I could easily visualise the scenes and the environment, and the atmosphere and tension really drew me into the story. You get the sense almost right from the outset that something is not right and you think you know what is ahead but things are certainly not what they seem to be, or anywhere near what you could have imagined.

The use of the lore and legend of the sĂ­dhe really captures the imagination and creates a magical aspect to the story that kind of lulls you into a false sense of security. What you imagine is going to happen is nowhere near the horrific situation the characters find themselves in. The author creates twists and turns that pull the rug out from under your feet and shows that not all fairytales have a happy ending.

I'm a huge fan of horror and of Scottish lore, legend and fairytales so this was a perfect mix for me.

Unseemly is storytelling at it's best.
Highly recommended.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Review: Life After Dane by Edward Lorn

Life After Dane - Edward Lorn
Life After Dane by Edward Lorn

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Life After Dane from the publisher in return for an honest review.

It's always a pleasure to read something by Mr Lorn, his writing style is right up my street: dark, disturbing and scary with humour thrown in for good measure. What more could you ask for? As a huge fan I jumped into this one without any knowledge of what I was in for, not a good move on my part.  I am absolutely terrified of the dentist and anything to do with pain of any sort to do with teeth, so this one got more than a few cringes from me!

Life After Dane was a roller-coaster of a read, both emotionally and psychologically. Lorn weaves a tale that exposes the reader not only to the supernatural but also to the all too real human side of horror, which is truly horrifying to read. The author does an excellent job of playing with the readers emotions, pulling them back and forth in a way that not only keeps them on the edge of their seat but also in a constant state of conflict in regards to who to root for. My feelings and emotions were all over the place, jumping back and forth between feeling sorry for characters one minute to detesting them the next. Some of the scenes were heartbreaking to read, especially as a parent, knowing that for some it's an everyday reality, one they have no control over.

I'm just going to totally skip over the parts involving teeth. *Shudder*

One you won't want to miss. I read it in one sitting. Who needs sleep right?

Highly recommended!

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Review: Man Made Murder by Z Rider

Man Made Murder (Blood Road Trilogy) (Volume 1) - Z. Rider

Man Made Murder by Z Rider

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Man Made Murder from the publisher in return for an honest review.

One thing Rider does well is to tell a vampire story with a different twist without relying heavily on the actual vampirism itself. It's hard one to explain. There are vampires in the story but it doesn't centre around them like most stories do, it's an underlying storyline that justifies the more character driven story that is Man Made Murder. The characters being those who have been, or are being, affected by the vampires and the life changes that occur(red) from events involving them.

Man Made Murder was an unusual read for me. Normally I don't enjoy a book if I can't connect to the characters in some way and yet I found myself drawn into this one. Rider creates characters that feel like real people rather than just a name on the page and despite the fact that I didn't really have anything in common with them, or able to relate to them in the usual way I would like, I was drawn into their story.

There was a lot of internal dialogue which, although it gave a lot of insight into the characters, I felt was too relied on. How a characters mixes, reacts, converses and interacts with other characters is a huge part of what makes them relatable for me and I felt like that aspect was lacking here. Because of this I found it hard to connect with the characters but I was still drawn in enough to continue and finish the book.

The premise was an interesting one but there was something lacking and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. Perhaps it was me not being able to connect with the characters or the fact that it's the first of a trilogy and there is more to come. Or it's maybe that I am left feeling that I wanted it to start a bit earlier than where it did and include the earlier experience of Carl's sister. Could be a mix of all three but it just didn't feel like a story I could really get my teeth into as it is.

I'm kind of on the fence. I want to see where it goes in the next book but I'm not desperate to find out at the same time.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Friday, 5 February 2016

Review: Prince of Nightmares by John McNee

Prince of Nightmares - John McNee

Prince of Nightmares by John McNee

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Prince of Nightmares from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The premise of Prince of Nightmares really intrigued me and as an added bonus I discovered that not only is John McNee a Scottish horror author but the story is also set in Scotland. Result! Wild horses couldn't have held me back. I love all kinds of horror but being from Scotland myself it's a real treat to come across a Scottish horror author, especially one who sets their story in Scotland. Of course that doesn't mean that I am going to love it or that I'm going to give it 5 stars based on those facts alone.

Prince of Nightmares is expertly written, a pleasure to read and much more than I was expecting. At times I wasn't sure if what I was reading was real or if it was a dream but that just added to the imagery and surreal feel of the story.

I honestly don't think I could pick just one thing that stood out for me. I enjoyed everything about this one: the writing style, the imagery, the pacing, the atmosphere, and more. Fans of horror will devour the imaginative, twisted and horrific scenes within the pages of this book. I know I certainly did.  It's bloody, it's gory, it's vicious and certainly not for the faint of heart and I was totally immersed and enjoyed every minute.

I would love to read a prequel set around the history behind the hotel.

Highly recommended.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Review: Cookie Classics Made Easy by Brandi Scalise

Cookie Classics Made Easy: One-Bowl Recipes, Perfect Results - Brandi Scalise

Cookie Classics Made Easy by Brandi Scalise

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Cookie Classics Made Easy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Cookie Classics Made Easy is nicely presented and has lots of delicious looking cookie recipes. Each recipe is set out clearly and has a nice bright colourful photo of the finished product. The recipes themselves are pretty straight forward, just shove everything in the bowl and off you go.

I tried a few of the recipes but I have to admit it wasn't as straight forward as I was expecting. I'm from the UK and all the ingredients in the review copy I was provided with had US weights and measures, there was a conversion chart at the beginning of the book that covered some of the conversions but it didn't cover all of them and I had to look some up online. I'm not sure if the UK version once released will have UK or US measurements but I felt I had to point this out for anyone who is not familiar with US weights and measures which vary quite a bit from the metric measurements we use in the UK.

Another problem that I had was that every recipe was for 3, 4 or more dozens of cookies. Two recipes and you have 6 to 8 dozen cookies, which is fine if you're feeding an army but not for when you just fancy throwing a small batch in the oven for a treat. I had to reduce the ingredients to make smaller batches which was a bit time consuming to do, especially with the unfamiliar US measurements. It makes more sense to have the recipe set up for a smaller amount, perhaps one dozen, allowing the ability to easily double or triple it to make more rather than messing around with trying to reduce it.

The recipes I did try, once I had everything worked out, turned out to be delicious and went down well with all the family and I would certainly make them again but all the hassle of trying to reduce and convert the recipes beforehand isn't really the "Made Easy" experience I was looking for.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Review: Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton

Blood Sisters (Katie Maguire) by Graham Masterton (2015-10-08) - Graham Masterton

Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton

My Rating:

I received a free copy of Blood Sisters from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I have been a huge Graham Masterton fan for many years and I have enjoyed every book of his that I have read, until now.

I couldn't get into Blood Sisters, I kept hoping it would pull me in but it just didn't happen and I think that was largely due to the main character. I find a book very hard to enjoy when I don't like the main character. Katie Maguire is an overly complicated and emotionally confused woman, I kept finding myself thinking "sort yourself out woman, really!" She's all over the place and just comes across as a mess.

The plot felt scattered, there were too many side stories resulting in too much happening outside of the main storyline. I can't say I hated it, I stuck with it to the end as I had to know what was going on but it was hard work. I was making myself pick the book up to finish it rather than being drawn to pick it up. There were some grisly and imaginative murder scenes in the book that I really enjoyed, they were very well done and were the best part of the book in my opinion.

One thing I will say, this book makes me glad I'm an atheist!

Not one I would recommend.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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