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review 2018-06-04 18:45
HYENAS by Michael Sellars
Hyenas - Michael Sellars

 

HYENAS is a post-apocalyptic tale that is unlike any other I've read! There were at least two aspects that made it unique for me and I'll elaborate on those below.

 

The set up is as follows: 5 months ago there was a "Jolt" or "Spasm." Since that time, most people have been turned into "Hyenas" or "Jokers," and the world as we know it has ended. These people have changed from humans to insanely fast creatures that do nothing but laugh and eat other humans. And books, they eat books. (That's one of the unique aspects I mentioned above.) We follow along with Jay who has been hiding out in a bookshop and was rescued by Dempsey, who promises salvation in the form of a boat. To get to the boat, they will have to avoid the hyenas as well as the Beatles-loving militia that has recently formed. (Yes, you read that right.) Will Jay and Dempsey be able to float away from the horror that life in the city has become? You will have to read HYENAS to find out!

 

I don't want to get too far into the book-eating aspect of this tale as I believe the author should relate it to you as he intended. However, the second aspect of the story that I found original was the fact that these creatures are technically zombies; but somehow, I thought of them more as wolves. Granted, fast moving wolves that eat human flesh and books, but wolves just the same. Perhaps that's because they had some intelligence? (They could recognize when regular people were speaking to them, for instance.) Whatever term you want to use for these creatures, I found them to be simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

 

Since this world-ending event is rather recent in the book, different people refer to it, (and to the resulting beings), with different words and phrases. There hasn't been time for people to get together and come to a consensus on what the event and the resulting individuals should be called. I thought this was a realistic way to portray how different characters viewed the occurrence.

 

There's a lot of action packed into this book and with it came my only problem with this story. I thought there was a bit too much focus on the street names, alleys and city squares. We only raced through them for the most part, so I don't think we needed to know the name of every road down which they fled. As far as problems go, it's rather picayune.

 

Overall, HYENAS was a hell of a good time! Action packed, with a unique premise that turned the typical post-apocalyptic story on its ear. I'll state it bluntly: I want a sequel!

 

Strongly recommended for fans of dark fiction, post apocalyptic fiction and horror!

 

*This book was free on Kindle and I picked it up as such when Mr. Sellars requested a review. This opinion is my own, regardless of the cost of the book.*

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review 2018-03-15 18:37
Afterage by Yvonne Navarro
Afterage - Yvonne Navarro

AFTERAGE was a whole lot of freaking fun!

 

The vampire apocalypse has already occurred and entire cities have been decimated. With isolated survivors cut off even from each other-how could a premise this good go wrong? The good news is, it didn't.

 

What I liked most was the...I guess I'll put it as...different levels of vampire. They have differing levels of energy and power. I won't even get into the Queen. (That's what I'm calling her.)

 

I also liked how the story of each survivor, (or surviving group), was introduced. I think it takes a special skill and confidence to jump into a story with a large cast and Yvonne Navarro did it deftly and with panache. I never felt that the story was lost or unwieldy. It all came together in a most satisfying way.

 

With a lot of strong female characters populating the landscape of vampire-ridden Chicago, how could I not enjoy this book? I especially liked Louise and her little dog, Beau, and of course, I had a fondness for Jo as well. (Though I could not help being reminded of Swan, a character in another GREAT post apocalyptic tale. Bonus points if you know what character and/or book I'm talking about.)

 

AFTERAGE was written in the 90's but it doesn't feel dated. I think that's because there's no electricity in this world, so phones and the internet would be out of the picture anyway. Even though decades have passed since this was written, the characters and themes involved are timeless. They still worked their way into my heart, and perhaps if you let them, they'll work their way into your heart as well.

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

You can get a copy here:  AFTERAGE

 

 

*I read this book because of THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE podcast. (They're doing an online book group and this is the second book they're reading.) I probably wouldn't have made time to read it otherwise, so thanks to the HORROR SHOW crew for bringing it to my attention. *

 

 

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review 2017-10-27 15:42
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Strange Weather: Four Short Novels - Joe Hill

 

Strange Weather is the novel I most anticipated this year and I'm happy to report that it lived up to my high expectations. It consists of four short novels, (Joe Hill dislikes the term novella), and I enjoyed them all!

 

Snapshot is a story about memory and a camera that steals them. Set in the 80's with a teenage boy as the protagonist, this story packed some powerful imagery along with a bit of nostalgia for good measure.

 

Loaded is a tale about guns. Joe Hill says it's not political, but I think that both pro gun and anti gun proponents will bring their own views to the party. I tried to keep my politics out of it and enjoy it for the fast paced horror story that it was. Oh yeah, and the ending was KILLER.

 

Aloft was the story of a man on a cloud. It wasn't cloud 9, in fact, it wasn't a cloud at all, really. What imagination and creativity this story showed! I can't seem to put my finger on why this tale appealed to me so much, but the fact remains that it did. It reminded me somewhat of Hill's short story Pop Art , in that the tale doesn't break its back trying to provide explanations or reasons why...it just IS. And what it IS, is fantastic. (Junicorn!)

 

Rain was my favorite story in the book. The protagonist, Honeysuckle Speck, was one of the most interesting characters I've ever met. She is so much more than what you first suspect and I would love to read more about her in the future. It's hard to say what one would do if the sky suddenly began raining sharp crystal nails. I would love to think that I would act with the same bravery and smarts as Honeysuckle did, but I suspect I don't have the strength. Hill says in the Afterword that this book was sort of his anti-Fireman story, but one thing they both have in common is strong female characters and I like that. I like it a lot.

 

I received a digital review copy of this book from Edelweiss, but I also received my own (signed) copy, (whoohoo!),courtesy of Joe Hill at a book festival. This gave me a chance to check out the VERY cool illustrations, before and after each story, and also the little icons at the top of each page. They give the book a unique look and feel.

 

I've come to love and admire Hill's work over the last few years and I think he has developed a strong voice, independent of, but respectful, of his father's. Strange Weather was worth every minute of my time and I'm sure I'll be devoting more time by reading it again in the future.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get your copy here: Strange Weather

 

*Thank you to Edelweiss and to the publisher, (who I unabashedly emailed for the e-ARC of this awesome book), in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-05-15 14:00
Skitter by Ezekiel Boone
Skitter: A Novel (The Hatching Series Book 2) - Ezekiel Boone

SPIDERS! HELL YEAH!

 

Even though I loathe the things in real life, I find them so entertaining to read about when done well. Skitter is done very well!

 

We start right where The Hatching left off, (which was with a cliffhanger), and I found it quite easy to slip right back into this world-well, what's left of it, anyway. I keep expecting some kind of weird Star Trek time anomaly or something, because I just can't believe what's happened with the United States and the planet. Ezekiel Boone does not shy away from death, or what I think would be the ultimate response to such an invasion. That surprised and delighted me.

 

The main characters here are still interesting while the creature feature portions are entertaining. Perhaps all the things happening are not quite realistic, but who cares? Skitter is fun for those who like their spiders fast and hungry.

 

These 300+ pages flew by and I had a blast reading them. If you enjoy creature features, with a little bit of scientific and military action thrown in, and with character viewpoints from around the world, The Hatching and Skitter should work well for you.

 

Skitter is a fast, fun, chittering thrill ride and I enthusiastically recommend it! Bring on the next!

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Atria for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2016-10-10 15:22
Blood Verse by Patrick James Ryan
Blood Verse - Patrick James Ryan

 

Blood Verse is a rather lengthy collection of short stories and dark poetry. The stories range all over the place from weirdly creepy tales to ones about psychos surviving the storm of the century. Some were bigger hits with me than others and those were:

Hair This was a story straight out of the Twilight Zone. Creepy and weird without any real explanations, this was my second favorite tale in this collection.

Spelling Bee reminded me a lot of Stephen King's The Running Man. I remember a game show in that story where people with heart problems had to run on a treadmill. In this story, contestants have to do the whole spelling bee drill-say the word, spell the word, then say the word again. However, in this game if you get the word wrong, the consequences can be deadly. (This was my favorite story.)

Little Swimmers was an imaginative little story that packed a surprise ending that really was a surprise. (That happens so rarely, at least for me.)

F-21 was all over the place from abusive husband, to spree killer to apocalypse survivor-there was just no way to predict where this story was going.

While all these tales showed a lot of imagination and promise, the writing itself left a little to be desired. Admittedly, I have pretty high standards as far as grammar and use of language are concerned, so this is mostly a personal observation on my part. Also, there were a few things that could have been caught with more careful editing; for instance the word Tornado's in F-21 shouldn't have been a capital T and it shouldn't have had an apostrophe either. Issues like this popped up more often than they should which is why I deducted 1.5 stars from a 5 star rating.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection of dark fiction and poetry and I believe that Patrick James Ryan is an author to watch. As such, I plan to read his novel The Night It Got Out later this month.

 

You can purchase your copy here: Blood Verse

 


*I received a free e-copy of Blood Verse in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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