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Dead Money: A Zombie Novel
Dead Money: A Zombie Novel
Price: £1.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zombies meets The Running Man, 2 Aug 2014
Dead Money
By P J Johnson
“A new game show is sweeping the world. In the UK, contestants are lining up at the Mile High Tower for their chance to win ₤10,000,000,000. Nathan Baxter is in that line. Broke and desperate for money to support his family, he edges closer to his destiny. Stay alive for an hour, that's all he has to do. But so far no one has won or even come close. Can Nathan kill enough zombies to put his wife and five-year-old son on easy street for a few years? Or can he shock the nation and win the show.”
P J Johnson’s debut novel is something I’d like to champion; even its theme is familiar. If you enjoyed the action and dystopia in The Hunger Games, you’ll probably love this. If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s The Running Man, then you’ll find yourself welcome in the arena of Dead Money. But where King used condemned criminals and Collins has an enforced raffle; Johnson uses the interesting device of volunteers desperate for cash and a chance to buy their way out of poverty. Set in a society where the economic gap has widened, jobs are scarce and the population’s only joy is a mindlessly violent game show where the aim of the game is to survive and kill for bonus points. I even had a shudder at the set-up and preparation of the game show where men volunteer to be dropped into a sealed area to face off against deranged prisoners twisted on mind bending drugs.
The story is short and satisfying as Johnson doesn’t waste much time in setting up the situation before he heads off at breakneck speed through splatters of gore and double cross’s whilst making it as easy as possible for the reader to enjoy themselves without feeling like your missing anything out. I even found myself chuckling at points at sly references to the future and a few decent one liners. We have an admirably hero, despicable villains, and a seemingly never ending army of infected psychos wanting to tear our hero apart, all set against a time limit which adds another welcome dynamic tension to proceedings. A few typo’s and maybe a little more descriptions on the gore front wouldn’t have gone amiss are my only gripes with this piece, aside from that, Survival Horror is a welcome member to the zombie literature family
But Johnson is asking a much bigger question than will desperate men kill other men for money. This is where the world is heading, it is scarily eventual. We’re already in a world where more kids recognise the Churchill dog than his prime minister namesake, where as a society we’re happy for the next generation to be raised on a gruesome culture of children aspiring and subscribing the quick cash and soullessness of becoming a celebrity. We’re being numbed and dumbed down by trite TV so we don’t revolt against the constant oppression that life shovels upon us. Live violent death on TV is the next taboo to be broken by the media, it won’t be long. We have herds of wannabes willing to be served up as tube fodder for the chance of fame, fortune and notoriety. We have acres of rundown areas and council tenements waiting to be fenced off as an arena. Prisoners; pah, I’m sure if the conservatives get in for a few more years then the death penalty could easily be reinstated so we can get paedophiles and murderers wired up on plant food and let them loose on the cast of The Only Way is Essex. The crazy thing is, in the world we live in today, a show like Dead Money wouldn’t be amiss on the TV guide. The sick thing is, it’ll more than likely be a ratings hit.

5/5
Available on Kindle and Paperback from Amazon


Upon My Worst Enemy: A WWII horror novel
Upon My Worst Enemy: A WWII horror novel
by Mike Wellins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.10

5.0 out of 5 stars "There's something out there...and it ain't no Nazi.", 29 July 2014
Upon My Own Worst Enemy: A WWII Horror Novel by Mike Wellins

“Toward the close of World War Two, a foundering, lone German U-boat runs aground on a tiny nameless island in the North Atlantic. Just miles below the arctic circle, the German U-boat captain finds himself and his surviving crew stranded on a hostile rock in the middle of the frozen, pitching sea. Their ship destroyed, their supplies ruined, the German sailors quickly discover that they aren’t alone on the barren island. A small squad of Navy engineers, the working Seabees were already on the tiny island to build a small radio repeater station for the allies. With no place to retreat to, the two foes will face off in a brutal battle of attrition on the inhospitable island. The only hope for the Germans and the Americans alike is to survive long enough to meet the ship that is scheduled to pick up the Seabees, once their task is completed. The American squad is outnumbered, but far better prepared for battle and the deadly conditions. Neither side, however, could ever have been prepared for the third inhabitant on the god-forsaken rock…”

Upon a nameless, seemingly desolate, rocky outcrop somewhere in the North Atlantic, Mike Wellins has come up with the ingenious situation of forcing two groups of soldiers to fight each other when both sides mainly consist of men who have chosen to fight the war as far from the battlefield as possible. This dynamic works extremely well as a catalyst for action, as each group force each other’s hand because they believe that killing each other is what they are supposed to do. But nature has other plans for those that escape the carnage of bullets and bombs. Something lurks amongst the black volcanic crags, feasting on the bullet riddled flesh of those lucky enough to be dead.
Wellins pulls no punches with this novel as both sides resort to dirty tricks in order to gain the upper hand over the enemy. There will be no heroes at the end of this bloodletting. Only those that survive long enough to tell their tale. They’ve all entered into a war they didn’t want to fight in, now fighting is their only way out. As soon as you get to know a character, Wellins flicks them from the page with an often bloody end. It’s as if he’s picking the next victim from a hat in order to decide who gets disposed of next.
I loved every moment of ‘Upon My Own Worst Enemy’; it’s brilliant escapist action mixing Predator, Aliens, Southern Comfort, The Expendables, Castaway, King Kong and any other “Man Vs Something out there and it ain’t no man” film I’ve ever seen. For its setting, I can’t think of a book like it.
Slotted in between the pages is some storming black and white artwork by Colin Batty, which gives the reader a sense of the action and bleak desolation the characters find themselves in. The sparseness, but sheer drama of the illustrations gave me nostalgic shivers of comics such as Warlord, Eagle and Commando.
If you like horror, buy this. If you like action, buy this. If you’re reading this, buy this. Wellins writes with a confident knowledge and it’s clear he’s done his homework on the subject matter in regards to WWII. The prose is sparse, clipped of fat and brutal, almost as if someone had given Hemmingway a machine gun and a typewriter told him to write about a monstrous conflict worse than mankind could possibly imagine.
5/5


CUTE SPACE ROCKET Glow-in-the-Dark stickers - MEDIUM
CUTE SPACE ROCKET Glow-in-the-Dark stickers - MEDIUM
Offered by SuperDuperDecor
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 9 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My kids minds were blown when they discovered these stuck on their ceiling. Top tip- Scrunch up the remaining sticker from the sheet and stick it to the ceiling. Instant Asteroid!


The Hole
The Hole
by William Meikle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.65

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hole lotta trouble . . . (groan), 28 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Hole (Paperback)
The Hole by William Meikle
Published by Dark Fuse Press
"It starts with an odd hum that brings headaches and nosebleeds to the inhabitants of a remote, sleepy country town. Then a sinkhole begins to form...and out from that hole comes the townspeople's worst nightmares.

Facing their fears and the growing madness, a group of survivors descend into the collapsed area in an attempt to save what is left of their town. Sacrifices will be required, but will they be enough?

The hole is growing...spreading...and the horror within it is growing stronger..."

Stephen King did it with `Under the Dome' and `The Mist', Brian Keene did it with `The Darkness at the Edge of Town.' I love towns under a strange siege stories, and William Meikle's `The Hole, joins those ranks. It starts like any other day in which local dogsbodies Fred and Charlie (who are very Val and Earl from Tremors) are called out to save a septic tank from descending into a sinkhole. It's here their day gets worse. The town folk start to suffer from mysterious nosebleeds after hearing a hum that seemingly comes from the ground beneath their feet. And then ground gradually collapses beneath the town taking life, property and soil indiscriminately. What follows is a pulpy little story that joins together everything great about B-movies along with all the modern fears of the failure of government and the breakdown of society around us.
Our key characters of the earnest though comical town drunks, a plucky young doctor and a gruff sheriff are all fleshed out well enough for the reader to care if they live or die at the claws of many perils. Though it seems alcoholism might kill them first as every character seems bent on destroying their livers with booze. It's almost as if the book is sponsored by Jack Daniels.
Also thrown into the mix are trigger happy soldiers quarantining the town and a multitude of monsters that plague the shadowy depths of the hole; but not is all as it seems.
Whilst the familiarity of the town under siege and a few stereotypical character moments hinder the story in places, I felt overall that Meikle weaves a pretty darn good tale that holds a filmic quality throughout. If you enjoy tales about everyday people caught in extreme situations or perhaps enjoyed Stephen Laws' `Chasm', then `The Hole' might be a good book to fall into.
4/5


Scarecrow
Scarecrow
by Matthew Pritchard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.09

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding in it's field. . ., 28 Nov 2013
This review is from: Scarecrow (Paperback)
Scarecrow by Matthew Pritchard
Published by Salt Publishing.
"When Danny Sanchez, a hard-bitten journalist working in the Almeria region of Spain is sent to cover the demolition of the home of a retired expat couple, he lands a much bigger - and more grisly - story than he bargained for. As the diggers begin to tear down the house, a body, partially decomposed, its face swathed in a strange black sheath, is suddenly revealed dangling in the depths of the brickwork..."
There's been an asesinato. In fact there's been another and another . . . all found mutilated and entombed within the walls of Spanish villas around Almeria. As the bodies pile up, the mystery deepens, and with that comes an increasing sense of danger for journalist Danny Sanchez.
What first impressed me about Scarecrow are the lengths Pritchard goes to when immersing the reader in life beneath the Spanish sun. Write what you know is clearly on show here as we get a true sense of the frustrated journalist, how the British react to life abroad and the quarrels between those wishing simply to settle and make home and the convoluted twists of the Spanish governmental system. Pritchard paints the scene so vividly, the true joy of this book isn't the murder mystery element, but the setting and the life surrounding it. Spain should be a place of sun, sea, sex and sangria, but Pritchard lifts up and exposes the grim underbelly of life in Almeria. From the criminal element that thrive and deceive in the climate, the wandering unfortunates that immigrate illegally with a want for a better life and the inept, often corrupt governments that will just as happily take money from ex-pats and then crush their dreams with as much glee. This melting pot provides us with a dangerous though beautiful setting.
The story holds well and the character of the intrepid reporter Danny Sanchez is likable, earnest and with enough flaws to warrant the reader to root for him throughout. His quest for the truth is admirable as it stretches beyond simply wanting to know the grim details of the murders, but the why, and then who, as it becomes apparent that the killer is still at work. The supporting cast of characters gives us enough suspects to keep us guessing until the final few pages as to who the killer might be. They are close, but how close?
All in all, an immersive and easy to read whodunit than manages to be smart without isolating the reader, and with a plot that that draws the reader in without being too simplistic. I wouldn't recommend reading it on holiday though.
5/5


Roadkill
Roadkill
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite story of the year. Brum Brum., 7 Oct 2013
This review is from: Roadkill (Kindle Edition)
D'Lacey has excelled his previous work with Roadkill, which thunders along at close to 200mph for barely 100 seconds of real time, stretched out over barely 30 pages. The prose becomes transcendental, the narrators whirring thoughts as he hurtles along an semi-apocalyptic highway littered with obstacles filter through faster than time can pass. Every minor breath and indecision is beautifully caught as we sit inside the head of a driver in a race for his life against an equally dangerous and determined opponent.
The action never lets up from the first revs to the dead eyed, solemn crowd that gather at the finishing line in an ending that defines the term car crash entertainment. Roadkill is a nerve wracking, white knuckle, fuel soaked delight that veers close to dangerous curbs. My only disappointment was that the road wasn't longer. I can't recommend this chapbook enough as it encapsulates the horror we all feel in our lives at some point; we are all hurtling along in our lives, whilst our doom does likewise towards us.


Wolf Hunter
Wolf Hunter
Price: £1.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Holy Nazi Werewolves., 18 Aug 2013
This review is from: Wolf Hunter (Kindle Edition)
Wolf Hunter by J. L. Benét

"In the waning days of WWII, the Nazis succeeded in creating the ultimate fighters, werewolves. Viktor Huelen escaped capture and made his way to America, where he lived for years undetected...until now."
Another day, another super soldier themed horror, Wolf Hunter starts during the final days of WWII, setting up the interesting premise that the Nazi's may have tinkered with the occult to produce super werewolves that would effectively reign furred terror upon the battle field. But the experiment is cut short and the war ends with several of the wolf tainted soldiers escaping. Fast forward to modern America and we meet thoroughly unlikable student Steve who's pretty much infatuated with all things werewolfy and has his heart set on become a midnight howler after discovering that the Germans may have built a machine to allow him to complete his dreams. Thrown into the mix is a shape-shifting Native American, Jack, who is tasked by tribe elders to vanquish this fresh attempt at werewolfedom at any cost. Jack is the Chuck Norris of shape-shifting Native Americans and his tortured soul provides the novel with a flawed, complex hero who is forced into bloodshed because his tribe demands it.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the ethos of Wolf Hunter, I felt the plot lacking in parts, becoming bogged down midway as the students seek to source parts and materials for their experiment. Also the use of the Nazi's is underused as their sinister experiment is never truly realised. It would have been fun to see a pack of werewolves on the battlefield tearing soldiers open and being bad dogs. However, what interested most about this novel wasn't the action or even the scenes of gore, but the belief system of the Native Americans which is explored and nicely interwoven with the mythos of werewolves.
"When man first lit a fire, he separated himself from the animal world. He gained civilisation but lost his place in the animal world. It was man's relationships to other humans that set him apart."
They're many gorgeous little thoughts like this sprinkled throughout the story. Fans of shape-shifters or werewolves will lap up this thoughtful little novel, but gore fiends wanting blood soaked fur fest might be a little disappointed as the amount of wolf action on offer.

3.5/5


The Pack (The Venator Series Book 1)
The Pack (The Venator Series Book 1)
Price: £1.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Join the pack., 18 Aug 2013
The Pack by Joe Mikolay

West Chatham was a quiet town, sleepily wrapped up in its suburban comforts. It was a place where everyone knew that every day would play out to the same familiar melody, and every night would shroud them in tranquil silence. It was a simple town, with simple people living simple lives- or so it seemed from the outside looking in.

Until the day came when dozens of mauled and devoured carcasses were revealed by the unblinking light of the sun. And the night came when concealed horrors lurked, piercing the shrouded silence with bestial howls. For once The Pack claims a territory as its own, the feeding frenzy begins . . .

Another day, another werewolf novel.
Okay, let's fuse the angst of The Breakfast Club mixed with the growing pains of puberty found in Teen Wolf, now let's add some more werewolves. And some more teeth, and voilà! That's pretty much the plot of The Pack in a nutshell. Aside from a bloody prologue, no one dies for the first quarter of the story, but I didn't mind. It was worth it.
Mikolay introduces our teenage main characters Michael, Ellis, Jeff, Kristen and Natalie and their convoluted YA love/lust pentangle, creating a balance of sympathy and concern in the five main protagonists. I honestly didn't mind the lack of gore, as the character building is interesting enough and with a lining of humour and a slow burning build up to help the reader gel with the characters. But then things get darker when a gang of charismatic strangers roll into town and the bodies start to pile up. I'll not reveal any spoilers, but people do change as they get older.
The plight of Natalie Hawthorn and her abusive step-father is fraught with terror. Whilst werewolves are bound to being monsters with a hunger for live flesh, the character of her step-father, Samuel Hawthorn is despicable in his actions, proving the ogres of our nightmares are already living in the real world. Ellis and Kristen provide an interesting dynamic of both being in love with Michael, whilst Kristen's twin brother is in love with Ellis. These budding chances of romance are the driving force behind the story and add an extra dimension to the traditional monsters on the loose story where characters we don't care about get torn apart. In this case, I cared as to what happened. And I don't think I can forgive Mr Mikolay for what he did. He knows what he did.
I was thoroughly impressed with Mikolay's self-published novel. It mixes equal parts of the tenderness and discovery of young love ground against violent, talon biting action. Werewolf fan or not, pick up a copy of this tale of fur, fury and friendships tested to the limit.
5/


The Express Diaries
The Express Diaries
by Nick Marsh
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Strange Murders on the Orient Express . . ., 18 May 2013
This review is from: The Express Diaries (Hardcover)
The Express Diaries by Nick Marsh
EUROPE, 1925. The continent still licks its wounds from the devastating war that raged across it a few years before. Meanwhile, in London, an ageing professor has uncovered the clues to the whereabouts of pieces of an ancient statue, all but forgotten by history. When his investigations lead him to fear for his life, he enlists the aid of an unlikely group of allies; a retired colonel, a secretive academic, a magician's wife, and a Yorkshire matriarch with her reluctant assistant. Together they will journey across Europe to recover the long-lost statue. They will travel in style, on the most luxurious train the world has ever seen. Unbeknownst to them, however, their activities have already attracted the attention of a sinister cult, desperate to acquire the artefact for their own dark purposes, and now a terrible creature, trapped for centuries, senses that the opportunity for revenge has come at last . . .
The Sedefkar Simulacrum has been found, an ancient artefact broken into pieces and spread throughout Europe. A group of friends find themselves thrust into an urgent race across a continent in order to collect the pieces before other; more nefarious individuals can lay their hands on them for their own devious means. What follows are the collected diaries of the friends as they travel across Europe and face off against various groups of conspiring evil during the winter of 1925.
First and foremost, I was furnished with a hardback copy of this book, which is almost as beautiful as the story itself. Nick Marsh has gone through some trouble to bring this labour of love to the world as it's meticulously researched and adorned with many fantastical illustrations giving the journey undertaken a further dimension away from the page.
What starts as slightly murderous, though jolly romp in search of long lost artefacts, soon turns red with blood as the bodies pile up along the tracks. Despite being an entirely serious and accomplished novel, Marsh manages humour in the grimmest of circumstances and catches the parlance of the times as if he were there in the roaring twenties. It charges full steam ahead into clouds of blood and intrigue, taking no prisoners aboard, and leaving a trail of death in its wake. As the action flicks from the different viewpoints of the various characters and articles of media, the story is constantly refreshed throughout. With a pace that Hollywood would be envious of, I couldn't find any faults throughout the entirety of the story.
I've never really read anything Lovecraftian before this, so I was expecting tentacles and dark ones within, but I was surprised to find an intriguing mystery set upon the Orient Express that charges along with a mixed bag of characters like "Indiana Jones and the Skin Thieves", in which every character we meet brings something to proceedings instead of just being murder fodder. When characters die, you will miss them. The main group of characters are witty and not without their faults. Marsh slips them into history with ease making their adventure all the more real. In particular Colonel Neville Goodenough despite his age is a likable and rufty tufty, though slightly cantankerous adventurer. Betty Sunderland, the matriarch of the group brings a mischievous Miss Marple air to proceedings, her diaries helping to ground the story as we barrel along at breakneck speed.

If you like your horror a little more classy, or perhaps you're a fan of everything and anything Lovecraft, period horror such as Dracula or H. G. Wells (or even a good mystery romp like Agatha Christie), I urge you to buy the ticket and take the ride on The Express Diaries. Thoroughly recommended.

5/5


Tankbread
Tankbread
by Paul Mannering
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars a balls to the wall, brains on the ceiling, tongue through cheek action comedy, 18 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tankbread (Paperback)
Tankbread by Paul Mannering
Mannering's debut novel brings a vision of the apocalypse set in the wastes of what was once Australia. Sheep run wild and woolly, remaining townships board themselves away from zombie hoards and a lone, unnamed courier wanders the brutal landscape, surviving on a day to day basis.

Tankbread are brain dead clones, mass produced by scientists holed up in the Sydney Opera House and fed en masse to the zombie scourge in an attempt to appease their voracious appetites in a bitter peace treaty. Our nameless hero finds himself tasked with transporting one such Tankbread across country in effort to find a cure for the virus that has decimated the world, before her fatal best before date ends. What follows is a witty, action packed adventure that draws upon classics such as Soylent Green, I Am Legend and with more than a hint of The Fifth Element as our hero begins to train the child like clone he comes to name Else in ways of self-defence and survival. His prickly wit and wry John McClane-esque one-liners soon rub off on her and for me this was the ultimate joy of the entire story. Else's learning curve is tragic and comical, her childlike curiosity in a dangerous world is a rose amongst gnashing teeth. I found myself rooting for her throughout despite her numbered days, begging please don't let Else die, please don't let Else die . . .

Along the way our hero and his not vulnerable for long sidekick, face off against endless swarms of hungry zombies and meet a variety of strange characters that add a greater depth to the story including honourable knights, flying nuns, feral children and flesh hungry pigs. From cover to cover, Tankbread is a balls to the wall, brains on the ceiling, tongue through cheek action comedy that even manages to twang a few heartstrings along the way. Zombie fans need to jump on this now and give this novel the recognition it deserves.
5/5


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