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M. Brookes
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100 Nightmares
100 Nightmares
Price: 1.83

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb horror collection, 17 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 100 Nightmares (Kindle Edition)
I love drabbles. If you haven't encountered them before then they are stories that are exactly 100 words long, not including the title. I've encountered some fine drabblists and this author jumps straight in there amongst them. This is a fine collection of horror themed drabbles, you can dip into them a few at a time or just consume them all in one go as I did.

There's an art to writing an effective story in so few words and the author nails it. Some have the delicious twist in the tale which turn the meaning of the story with just those last few words. The drabbles are all horror themed, but there is still a diverse range of stories told here. As well as effective bite-sized stories the author demonstrates a wonderful turn of phrase. For me story is king, but I also appreciate finely constructed language and this is often evident here.

I should also mention the illustrations that are sprinkled liberally throughout. They compliment and enhance the stories well. So if you like good horror and well written short fiction then this needs to be in your reading list.


Acid Sky
Acid Sky
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating sci-fi story, 16 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Acid Sky (Kindle Edition)
This is the prequel to the author's book 'Below Mercury' and provides an entertaining and more importantly, fascinating look at operation on Venus in the future. Like his earlier book the author demonstrates a sound technical knowledge of the technology and procedures and this creates an authentic feel for the story. From the opening lines you get a strong feel for what life must be like for the astronauts involved.

Unfortunately the book doesn't quite match the high standard for the first story, the main issue here is the overall story. It lacks the punch of the events on Mercury and to be honest uses a few cheap shots to carry it. The horror movie sequence near the end kind of spoiled it for me.

Although it didn't spoil it too much! While it's fair to say the story isn't anything special it's still a damn fine read. The main reason for this is the vision of it. I was enthralled by procedures and the day to day life on one of the big carriers permanently based in Venus's atmosphere. This does raise a more minor complaint, the author creates an interesting world, backed up with solid technical details. However the wider concerns seem to be missing. I would have loved to learn more about how the world economy supports such extravagant operations in space.

So there's a couple of gripes with the story, but if you enjoy a technical and plausible science fiction read then this is well worth checking out.


The Realm [DVD]
The Realm [DVD]
Dvd ~ Justin Armstrong
Price: 3.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Not awful, 15 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Realm [DVD] (DVD)
I was surprised by this film, in fairness I was expecting it to be terrible but it turned out to be an ok watch. A group of kids mess around with a ouija board and get what's coming to them. It's a fairly traditional ghost story at heart told in a found footage format. The constant camera bob is a bit distracting, but not too bad.And that's the film all over, it's ok and not a terrible watch, worth checking out if you're running low on new horror to watch.


The Borderlands
The Borderlands
Dvd
Offered by Lovefilm UK Limited
Price: 0.00

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor horror, 13 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Borderlands (DVD)
I'm surprised I made it to the end of this film. I don't mind a lack of quality as long as some effort is made somewhere, but it's lacking throughout. The plot is predictable, in fact a comment early on in the film pretty much gives the whole story away. The found footage uses head cams so it's mostly head bob and when it finally gets going lights and darkness. It does redeem itself a little bit at the end and the burning sheep gets a point. Not worth watching.


The Face of God
The Face of God
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting short story, 13 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Face of God (Kindle Edition)
This is a fun short story with an excellent build up. The main character is interesting and the reveal was also well done. Unfortunately it falls a little flat at the end. The main reason for this was that the essence of the reveal deserved more and the effect that it has on the lead character was rushed. It was a life changing event and so much more could have been done with it.

That being said it's still worth a read for the idea and the beginning alone and I look forward to seeing how the author develops with future stories.


Voyeurs of Death
Voyeurs of Death
Price: 0.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection of horror tales, 13 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Voyeurs of Death (Kindle Edition)
I'm a fan of short stories and I've read a couple of the author's other books and enjoyed those so this seemed a safe bet. The books of his that I've read where murder investigations and very well done, this collection is more firmly in the horror camp with a dash of the unusual for good measure.

The usual problem with short story collections is variable quality, that is true to an extent here but even the weakest story here was worth a read. The book has two clear strengths, the first and for me the most important was the imagination of the stories. At first glance a few seemed to follow familiar horror themes, but as they developed a fresh angle was revealed. I appreciate being surprised in a story.

The other positive was the quality of the writing, it's a joy to read the stories. It reads a little rougher than the other books of his that I've read, but not so much that it detracts, it's just an observation. The stories are all quick reads, although in a few cases I would have happily read more about the idea. Those minor issues aside this is an excellent collection of short stories and one I'd recommend to any fans of the genre.


The Machine
The Machine
Dvd
Offered by Lovefilm UK Limited
Price: 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting British Sci-Fi, 12 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Machine (Blu-ray)
This is an interesting British sci-fi film about the creation of the first artificial intelligence. It's a bit predictable, but it evolves at a decent pace and is told in an entertaining way so that doesn't matter too much. In essence it breaks down into a love story with a terminator. That might not sound like a great idea I was surprised that it actually worked. A fun watch, but not a taxing one.


Monster Avengers
Monster Avengers
Price: 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Monstrously fun read, 10 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Monster Avengers (Kindle Edition)
I'm a fan of the author's Smelly Trolls series, so I already knew that she could write an entertaining children's story. However this book is a little different in that she crowd-wrote the story with 300 children. A mammoth task of organisation and patience I'm sure, but how did the actual story turn out?

The story is a lot more coherent than I expected while still retaining the imagination from the children involved. There's a wonderful mix of characters, there's the hero of the story who is a young boy who's not had a good time of things. There's a super hero toddler and best of all are the villains - man eating ducks with vicious spikes!

There's an interesting blend of the fantastical and more mundane concerns and again some fun and imaginative ideas for tackling them. It's well paced and with the range of characters there's some good opportunities for funny voices if you're reading the story out loud.

Mention should also be made of the illustrations sprinkled liberally throughout the book. These are full of charm and also highlight the creations of the children involved. Overall this is a fun story for kids of all ages (even 41 year old ones like me!) and any story that features man eating ducks deserves to be read.


12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave
Dvd
Offered by Lovefilm UK Limited
Price: 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A tragic tale, 7 Jun 2014
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave (Blu-ray)
While not quite the second coming I'd heard this was still a fine watch. It's a tragic and interesting story that is well told, although it does drag on a bit. It's one of those films that makes you despair for humanity, but also includes moments that restores that balance that out a bit. Some of the scenes are quite brutal, but the main theme is one of injustice and holding on. Well worth a watch.


Last And First Men (S.F. Masterworks)
Last And First Men (S.F. Masterworks)
Price: 4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but staggering imagination, 7 Jun 2014
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This book is considered by many to be a classic in the science-fiction genre and now that I've finally read it I can see why. It's an unusual read in that it isn't your typical story as it provides a history of mankind's evolution for the next two billion years. As such there are no characters to become invested in making it difficult to connect to the story.

However the sheer scope and staggering imagination of the story more than makes up for that. It starts off on shaky ground as the initial progression through our own times (it was written in 1930) is very wrong. In fact the forward suggests that the modern reader skips the first few chapters. I didn't and while it gets many things wrong those early chapters expose some of the author's assumptions and prejudices.

As the story progresses further into the future the author's imagination really shines. This is a view of the potential of humanity as well as its flaws. It's also an interesting contrast to modern science-fiction where evolution takes a back stage to technology and trans-humanism. Here we see a varying blend of the possibilities and with it an exploration of what makes us human.

It's fair to say that it's not without its flaws. As already mentioned the early part doesn't correspond to reality very well, although I viewed it as a kind of alternative history. After all just because one path was followed doesn't mean that other paths didn't exist. The language can be a little dry at times and in some ways this is an interesting read rather than an entertaining one, although that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The two big flaws are that the scope and the science. The scope is so large that by the author's own admission much of the story is glossed over. I would have loved to see more detail on the different human species and cultures and in particular some of the individuals. That would have made this a huge book though, so the surface skim is a necessity, but a shame nonetheless. The issue of the science is that a lot of it doesn't stack up with modern knowledge. This is partly due to the limitations of knowledge at the time, but also in part because the author follows some interesting and quite far out threads.

Despite its flaws this book deserves its classic status. The sheer scope and imagination of it was enough to keep me enthralled throughout and I'd recommend it to fans of the genre.


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