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Reviews Written by
Greg James "dawn_fades"

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Hell, Texas (Hell Texas Book 1)
Hell, Texas (Hell Texas Book 1)
Price: £2.05

4.0 out of 5 stars More than just gore, 15 Jun. 2016
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Tim Miller's Hell, Texas is a nasty, vicious, twisted tale. Its set-up is straight out of late seventies horror movies with a group of unknowing innocents crossing one of the more barren and bleak stretches of America until they come across a backwoods town in the middle of nowhere and then ... all hell breaks loose. Though the premise is familiar, Hell, Texas stands out in just how far the author takes things when it comes to the punishments meted out to the hapless victims. You can imagine the author writing some of these gross-out scenes with a grin on his face and I give him credit for making me wince and feel queasy more than once whilst I was reading. The characters are painted in broad strokes, the prose is pared-down and punchy, keeping you turning the pages - I stormed through it in a couple of days whilst travelling to and from work - and some interesting twists are thrown in to stop things from becoming repetitive. Hell, Texas has everything to recommend it to the seasoned gorehound and those looking for an extreme but very entertaining read.


We are Wormwood
We are Wormwood
Price: £2.86

5.0 out of 5 stars William Burroughs had a black-hearted daughter and her name was Autumn Christian, 8 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: We are Wormwood (Kindle Edition)
We are Wormwood is Autumn Christian's follow-up to her debut - Crooked God Machine. Few authors so adeptly avoid categorisation as the prose-poem rhythms of this work flow like a dark river through horror, dystopian SF, morbid slipstream/magic realism fantasy. The reader has no choice but to be swept along as Christian paints superbly grotesque imagery of a world that feels so familiar yet so unlike our own with its damaged characters, nightmare-bleed landscapes, and fragmented sense of time and place. Where the author's debut hammered the reader with its dystopian semi-future narrative, here there is a sense of sensuous exposure as the narrator, Lily, bares herself until she is utterly naked before us. The story, and stories within stories, that she tells us feel as intimate as they are disturbing with an atmosphere of beautiful rot and decay clinging to everything like jewelled scabs. Charles Bukowski is mentioned a few times at key points and We Are Wormwood feels to me like a response to him in some ways. It shares Bukowski's sense of autobiography nakedness but also it has a powerful and ferocious feminine voice that embraces the fantasy he eschewed for the most part, and couldn't master in his final novel. This novel also feels at times like a retort to the casual, and purposeful, misogyny that is too often embraced by male artists as part of their self-made mystique. Leaving that aside, the one author I do feel like I can truly compare Autumn Christian to is William Burroughs. We are Wormwood feels like the kind of drug-addled extermination of safe ideals he would approve of as it takes us on a psycho-sexual roadtrip into the most damaged parts of the American dream and shows us something even more cosmic and breathtaking waiting to be found underneath the refuse humanity has created. Do yourself a favour, buy this book.


Sleep Deprived: *Warning: Some Scenes May Disturb
Sleep Deprived: *Warning: Some Scenes May Disturb
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Oooh, nasty!, 17 May 2016
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This is the story of Anna - a woman, unable to sleep and running on fumes, babysitting a couple's young baby. The longer she is left alone with the child, the closer she is driven to the edge by its crying. What happens next ... well, you'll have to read it to find that out.
For her debut, Dawn Cano has decided to pull no punches and go straight for the metaphorical throat - and gag reflex - with a taboo-breaking extreme horror short story. It's a straightforward tale that nicely cranks up the tension as Anna descends into madness. If, like me, you enjoy it when authors push the boundaries of 'good taste' then you'll thoroughly enjoy this nasty little trip into a damaged psyche. I can't wait to read more from Dawn and see her grow as an author. This lady has got big things ahead of her.


The Unwashed Dead (Zombie Armageddon Book 1)
The Unwashed Dead (Zombie Armageddon Book 1)
Price: £2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars A truly British apocalypse, 6 May 2016
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The Unwashed Dead, for me, harkens back to the days when James Herbert, Guy N. Smith and Shaun Hutson were at the top of their game. Stephen King was a favourite of mine growing up but the aforementioned trinity had the edge because the places where they set their stories were recognisable to me - King's Maine was a far-off fantasy whereas Herbert, Hutson and Smith's locations felt familiar and made it more real.
There are a lot of z-pocs doing the rounds these days but where Ian Woodhead has succeeded is in bringing the end of the world home. Just as Herbert and Hutson portrayed a grimly recognisable London in their day so Woodhead paints a convincing northern working class backdrop and creates characters who I could easily imagine walking, or rather running, down the street as the undead invade their local on the estate. With the market glutted by American takes on zombie armageddon, it makes me happy to see there are a few Brits out there determinedly waving the flag.


Knock Knock
Knock Knock
Price: £3.84

5.0 out of 5 stars One...two...Miss Knocks is coming for you!, 3 April 2016
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This review is from: Knock Knock (Kindle Edition)
If there was going to be a book to start my reading year with, I couldn't have picked a better one than S.P. Miskowski's Knock Knock.

The story is set in an American backwoods town called Skillute and focuses on the lives of three residents who are born, grow up and...well, that would be telling...within its boundaries. We've read this story before many times but what makes Knock Knock stand out is how it inverts the traditions that have gone before.

Within and without the horror genre, there have been a lot of novels focusing on 20th century America as seen through the eyes of boys and then men. Knock, Knock also tells this story but through the eyes of three girls; Beverly, Ethel and Marietta.

Knock, Knock excelled for me in not portraying them as 'kick-ass heroines' but girls who we see become women in a country that doesn't always deliver on its dream. There is a grit and a grime worked into their lives that makes them feel very real. The persisting supernatural influence haunting their lives - sometimes called Miss Knocks - feels like an embodiment of the feelings 20th century America, and indeed global society, has often demand its women control and suppress rather than embrace. This is a ghost made wild, feverish and malignant by emotions held in for too long, until they begin to rot. The relationship between it and the three women is very intimate - rooted in their adolescent blood-pact to remain childless and its influence stays with them as their lives both unfold and unravel. How much the consequences of such a decision are down to the women, the world around them, and the horror they've awoken is left for the reader to decide.

It is also worth nothing that the majority of the men are portrayed as curiously ineffective or oblivious to what is going on; wrapped up in a reality they do not share with the women in their lives, even though they do not see it that way themselves. Some of them care but do not understand whilst others are only concerned with maintaining control.

Knock, Knock's theme of contrasts continues here as we see no traditonal hero step forward as might possibly be expected and the women have to resolve the threat of Miss Knocks in their own, less direct ways - with some suitable surprises in store.

Knock, Knock is a superb novel and ghost story and I heartily recommend it.


Paranormal After Dark: 20 Paranormal Tales of Demons, Shifters, Werewolves, Vampires, Fae, Witches, Magics, Ghosts and More
Paranormal After Dark: 20 Paranormal Tales of Demons, Shifters, Werewolves, Vampires, Fae, Witches, Magics, Ghosts and More
Price: £2.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Wiccan Wars review, 9 Feb. 2016
Wiccan Wars is, first and foremost, a love story in the classic mould with a son and daughter from opposing families falling for one another. What makes this interpretation of that classic tale stand out is the author’s trademark poetic prose and her knack for portraying love between two people without resorting to trite sentimentality. Don’t misunderstand this statement; Wiccan Wars has its soft and gentle moments but they are never over-sweetened.
The backdrop for the romance is an escalating feud between covens of dark and light Wiccans, the author’s own understanding of this belief system shines through. It forms the backbone as chapters are headed with quotations, we see how these characters fit into a world hostile to their beliefs, and the displays of magic are as much about spiritual meaning as pyrotechnics.
The portrayal of the light and dark side of Wicca is detailed and brings a great deal of depth to the characters, particularly the protagonists; Ever and Cade. Their love builds incrementally throughout the novel until the finale where you find yourself turning the pages as fast as you can read to see what happens to them. I won’t spoil what that might be, except to say it has left me eager to read the sequel - and more of this author’s work in general.


What the Sea Wants
What the Sea Wants
Price: £6.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Literary romance, 3 Feb. 2016
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I don't read a lot of romance novels very often but Karin Cox is one of the authors in the genre I do read - why is that? Because she lends a realism that gives her stories a definite literary weight. No more is this more apparent than in What The Sea Wants where we are introduced to Willow Bay - an Australian coastal town where the characters talk colloquially, act as you would expect people to act under ordinary and extraordinary circumstances, and give you a sense of what it's like to be there; on the beach, in the sea, falling in love. The author expertly wrings poignancy from the relationships and situations presented which acts as a balance to the sentimental moments; once again making it all feel that more real. There are some paranormal elements to the story and these sit in the background working subtly throughout the narrative and tying in with the underlying theme that the sea, much like life, does as it pleases, takes what it wants, and cannot be fought against but can be accepted. And when it is, events that seem like miracles can happen. What The Sea Wants is a novel not only for the discerning romance reader but for everyone.


Heaven Below (Goddess of Ptalonia Book 1)
Heaven Below (Goddess of Ptalonia Book 1)
Price: £2.14

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantasy romance that pulls no punches, 22 Jan. 2016
Heaven Below is the story of Kelli and Bastian and the love between them which has transcended love, death and numerous lifetimes. The premise may be familiar but its execution is a cut above the rest and then some.
Heather Marie Adkins has an envious talent for character in her command of naturalistic dialogue, portraying the nuances of relationships and not holding back when it comes to the emotional gut-punches. The temptation in a romantic story might be to fall back on sentiment and viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses but this author never falls into those traps. There are scenes in this novel which hurt to read and that recognition of the harshness of reality gives the gentler moments much greater weight than they might otherwise have and makes them all the more poignant.
I should also mention that I was impressed by the novel's structure as we move between the past and the present as well as dreams and nightmares. Though complex, it never feels so and the pacing does not suffer as the narrative moves between modern day Kentucky and an exotic antediluvian paradise.
I recommend this to lovers of romance, fantasy, and damn good writing.


Coming Home (Under the Southern Cross)
Coming Home (Under the Southern Cross)
Price: £3.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful LGBT romance flavoured with Dystopia, 4 Jan. 2016
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Coming Home is a cross-genre novella that expertly blends a near-future science fiction setting with LGBT romance. Nick has returned home to Adelaide, Australia after ten years in government-imposed exile. This future feels all too real with its a world which has become acutely aware of its borders and seeking to punish those who overstep them - including microchip visas and the suggestion of being placed under plain-clothes observation. Our obsessions with healthy living and protecting the environment are shot through a distorting lens as the author portrays how these seemingly good causes could become the latest fashionable corporate investments.
Nick's struggle to adjust to, and accept, a home that is no longer home is mirrored in his attempts to re-connect with friends left behind by his enforced exile who are unsure of how they can accept him as one of their own. We are given a glimmer of hope which the author bravely allows to remain ambiguous and undefined, understanding that setting it in stone would undermine the carefully-constructed setting and characters already established. Coming Home is recommended to those who like a romance that reads like reality and those who like their science fiction flavoured with a subtle and well-executed hint of dystopia.


Peeper
Peeper
by S J Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining surprise, 30 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Peeper (Paperback)
Peeper was not what I expected in the best way. With its debut publication, Sinful Press has set a high standard not only in terms of producing a work of quality erotica but also in originality. Adam ‘Jenks’ Jenkins is an amateur private investigator who takes on a case from the mysterious Mr Evans. The latter is being blackmailed by the stunning Veronica, a young woman with a habit of getting undressed with the curtains open. Before long, Jenks finds himself in over his head as he tries to get to the truth and satisfy his lust for Veronica as well as his love for his wife.
I believe that Peeper could be the first in a new sub-genre of erotica; let’s call it a sticky mystery and I do not mean that to demean it in any way. The story delivers a layered mystery narrative with plenty of drama and well-rounded characters as well as serving up well-crafted sex scenes that will get you hot under the collar – and even a few reflective sections on some of the characters’ personal deviancies. There’s something in Peeper for every one and though the sex is shown from the position of the male gaze, this fits entirely with the naturalistic style of the prose and realistic portrayal of the characters’ world.
Try Peeper if you are looking for something different and original which does not insult your intelligence but never forgets to have fun.


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