Review round-up: January’s Quick Reads

“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”

Zakk reviews a handful of things…

Since my middle son received a Kindle for Christmas and I a Kindle Fire (for the wife to share) that puts four Kindles in the household. So I’ve decided to pick up a Kindle Unlimited subscription, mainly for my wife and older boys to pick up things to read, but also for me. It gives me an opportunity to check out some titles (I’m looking mainly at short stories and novellas) that I haven’t received review copies for. It also gives me an opportunity to give back a little bit to the writers that have entertained me over the past few years, since I started this review blog thing.

For the time being, any review copy I receive that happens to be available via KU will be downloaded and read in that fashion, in hopes of throwing some change into the pockets of the authors I read.

These are the KU titles I’ve read so for in January:

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Where Monsters Live by Duncan Ralston, 35 pages published by Shadow Work Publishing (December 2, 2016).

Synopsis

When police fail to find the man responsible for raping a six-year-old girl, her father leaves home on a harrowing undercover journey into Miami’s sex offender colony under the Julia Tuttle Causeway to hunt down the “Rabbit Man,” and put him in the ground.
Vengeance is a monster that lives within our own hearts.

Quick thoughts

Duncan has burst through the gates as a “must read” author. His pieces are nothing short of entertaining and he is really at the top game when he is pushing the envelope and exploring the darkest matters of the heart. Does it really get any darker than seeking revenge on the one responsible for raping your child? Nope, it doesn’t.

This is a gut wrenching quick read that serves discomfort on a tarnished silver platter. Way to go Duncan, I’m excited to see where you go from here.

Recommendation

As with any other Duncan Ralston piece, this is a definite read. Get your hands on this.  

Amazon Link

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Apocalypse Meow by Thomas S. Flowers, 26 pages published by Shadow Work Publishing (July 22, 2016).

Synopsis

Jill and Bill Cook didn’t care much for their slice of hamlet, but The Noke is home. And sometimes home can be the most difficult place to get away from. Jill also didn’t care much for cats, but cats don’t seem to be in short supply in The Noke. Swarming in from the abandoned sections of used up coal refineries, their home soon becomes overrun by multitudes of feral felines with strange glowing green eyes. What do these strays want? And why won’t they go away?

Quick Thoughts 

Thomas S. Flowers is another of those must read authors. His writing craftily combines humor, dark themes, and the heaviness of real world issues. The third Subdue book knocked my socks off so I was excited to check some of the pieces that I hadn’t had the opportunity to read yet.

Recommendation

If you like your horror with a little tongue-in-cheek humor than this is for you. There’s definitely a Tales From the Darkside vibe raging through. Cat’s are bastards and this read shows just how deep the menace runs. Apocalypse Meow is a romp. Read it.

Amazon Link

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Lanmo by Thomas S.Flowers, 53 pages published by Shadow Work Publishing (February 21, 2016).

Synopsis

1964 Mississippi. John Turner, a young black man canvassing for votes in the Delta is pulled over by local police on a rural dusty road. After carrying out what they believed was their civic duty, the klansmen believed they’d gotten away with what they did to John. But they didn’t know the powers residing in those dark Delta woods. And they certainly didn’t bank on southern voodoo.

Quick Thoughts 

Were there darker times in American history than the racial/ equal rights movements in the 70’s, especially in the south? Lanmo takes a dark look at racial insensitivity, it’s a moving and horrific piece that rings with an unflattering truth of the times. People are bastards, and will continue to be bastards, and this is multiplied if the feel that they are better than you of hold any sort of power over you. Lanmo is a great piece that ties directly in to Conceiving, Subdue book 3.

Recommendation 

Read this, especially if you have read or are planning to read the Subdue series.

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Mourning Jewelry by Stephanie M. Wytovich, 123 pages published by Raw Dog Screaming Press (May 6, 2014)

Synopsis

Mourning is the new black…

The tradition of Victorian mourning jewelry began with Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Without photography, mementos of personal remembrance were used to honor the dead so that their loved ones could commemorate their memory and keep their spirits close. Ashes were placed within rings, and necklaces were made out of hair, and the concept of death photography, small portraitures of the deceased, were often encased behind glass. Mourning jewelry became a fashion statement as much as a way to cope with grief, and as their pain evolved over the years, so did their jewelry.

But what about the sadness and the memories that they kept close to them at all times? The death-day visions and the reoccurring nightmares? Wytovich explores the horror that breeds inside of the lockets, the quiet terror that hides in the center of the rings. Her collection shows that mourning isn’t a temporary state of being, but rather a permanent sickness, an encompassing disease. Her women are alive and dead, lovers and ghosts. They live in worlds that we cannot see, but that we can feel at midnight, that we can explore at three a.m.

Wytovich shows us that there are hearts to shadows and pulses beneath the grave. To her, Mourning Jewelry isn’t something that you wear around your neck. It’s not fashion or a trend. It’s something that you carry inside of you, something that no matter how much it screams, that you can just can’t seem to let out.

Quick Thoughts 

After finishing Stephanie’s first, stellar, novel The Eighth, which happened to be my first Wytovich read, I was eager to check out some of her other works. Starting with Mourning Jewelry, containing 123 pages of superb, dark poetry and prose. It was a perfect choice for getting back into dark poetry, something I haven’t taken the opportunity to indulge in for some time. It is a gorgeous read, with my favorite track being the title cut Mourning Jewelry. I’ll definitely be sharing with friends.

Recommendation

If poetry is your thing, then yes, check this out. If poetry isn’t your thing, check it out anyway, Mourning Jewelry might swoon you.

Amazon Link

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The Robbin by D.S. Ullery, 42 pages self published.

Synopsis

In this dramatic tale from author D.S. Ullery, teenager Amber Pentz is grieving over a terrible loss when she experiences a series of unusual events, all centered around a seemingly common bird. Amber soon discovers prayers can be answered and that, sometimes, hope is carried on a pair of wings.

Quick Thoughts 

In The Robbin, D.S. Ullery steps away from his horror roots and crafts a very moving and uplifting tale of hope. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual horror fare I partake in. Even though The Robbin isn’t horror it does deal with some heavy themes and packs quite a punch.

D.S. is a master wordsmith and a remarkable writer, weaving fluid words into compelling read, every time, and I’ll follow him through any genre.

Recommendation 

If you’ve read Ullery’s work before then definitely grab a few tissues and read this piece. If you haven’t experienced D.S.’s stories then the above still applies then check out the rest.

Amazon Link

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Sin by Patrick Rueman, 80 pages published by

Synopsis

Ryan’s relationship is already on the brink when a woman goes missing in the small town of Bakerstand. With the whole town on high-alert, he refuses to let this dead city kill what’s left of his relationship. But, a house in the woods may hold a deadlier fate than the town ever could.

Quick Thoughts 

This is my first read from Patrick Rueman, and it didn’t quite work for me. There are some shining moments and a couple of parts that had me genuinely intrigued plus a bit of a twist that I did not see coming, but clunky dialog (mainly early on) had me waning and threatened to take me out of the story. The characters, especially the supporting cast, could use some depth and development. And having one of your main characters disappear before the final act, never to be heard from again… weird choice.

The groundwork is here for a compelling story, and Mr. Rueman could very well make a name for himself in the future, this just isn’t the one to win me over.

Recommendation 

Check out the free preview before jumping into this one.

Amazon Link

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

**Note: I read these books via Kindle Unlimited. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hunter Shea says:

    You’ve been a busy reader! Thanks for the recommendations. I just picked up a couple of them for my old, old Kindle.

    Like

    1. Zakk at TEOM says:

      Nice, what did you get?

      Like

    2. Zakk at TEOM says:

      Blue Demon and Witching Hour Theatre are good reads.

      Like

  2. Zakk-Attack, thanks for recommendations and the reviews, always a good feeling knowing a story clicked.

    Like

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