Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Staschy

There are a lot of great short story authors waiting to be discovered. One such author that I stumbled upon in the past year is Richard Staschy. He dabbles in several genres, and I've enjoyed most of his stories so far. Two of my favorites:

The Lighthouse has some descriptions that are so graphic, I thought I was going to throw up. The flow of the story was a little erratic, but, considering how chaotic the events in the lighthouse are, one shouldn't expect a smooth ride. It did feel like walking into a movie after it already started, but it's far better than a slow setup.

Love Hurts is psychotic. Who needs enemies when you have a friend like Mr. Chips? Seriously, the monkey is worse than the clown from It. I figured out almost right away where the story was going, but I still wanted to see how exactly it would play out. The ending is brutal.

I recommend Staschy to anyone needing a quick literary fix before the weekend is over.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sick Story For Saturday

Tentacle by Caleb Deschain
When I first came across this book (no pun intended), there was NOTHING about erotica in the description. I honestly thought this was just going to be a horror story like the movie Deep Rising. Imagine my surprise...

Tentacle by Caleb Deschain might prove popular with certain Japanese Anime fans, but not sure how other horror fans are going take this. Tammy, a junior researcher at a biotech corporation, wakes up in a concrete chamber with partial amnesia...and she is NOT alone. Subject #8472, a bioengineered life form, rises from the dark pool within the chamber and violates Tammy in some rather explicit ways. DEPRAVED SEXUAL CONTENT, interspecies rape - you have been warned.

Aside from the subject matter, I approached this story the way I would with any other. I found the repetition of phrases annoying; the dialogue could have been better. Additional editing would have improved this story. Regardless of genre or target-audience, a story should not resemble a rough draft full of typos.

Instead of spending so much effort on the details of the graphic sexual assaults on the female and male characters, the author should have spent more time developing the characters. For example, I don't know any guy who, regardless of how many Fleshlights he owns, would stick his member into a squid's mouth just because his boss told him to.

Despite my disgust, I have to admit the ending was pretty good - better written than the rest of the story. I gave three stars for creativity.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Feature: Luke Duffy and Zombies

Been trying to catch up zombie series...just finished a series by Luke Duffy that I started back in 2012...

When There's No More Room In Hell introduces two brothers, Steve and Marcus, in two different countries when a flu virus ravages the world's population. One brother tries to hold up in his apartment with his daughter, until it becomes apparent that there is more to this virus than just a fatal illness, and he tries to survive with others (including his brother's family) at a safari park. The other brother, a marine now working with a private security team, realizes that he will have to journey through several hostile countries to get back to his family.

At first, I was more interested in the security team's situation, but when the two storylines begin to merge together, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, racing through pages, wondering if the brothers would ever manage to be reunited. Somehow Luke Duffy managed to take the typical zombie survival story and turn it into an action-packed family drama overflowing with all kinds of horror - not just the undead threat.

Book 2 begins just after Marcus' group is attacked in France, but the battle is sort of skipped over. While I was more interested in the security team in Book One, Steve's group becomes far more interesting in the sequel. The survivors at the Safari Park are being sabotaged, and several new characters are introduced into that particular storyline, such as Stan and Kieran who appear to be nothing more than troublemakers not taking the outbreak seriously at all. I wondered how Duffy would tie everyone together.

The development of the characters accurately reflects the passage of time. There is also a good balance of undead action and personal interactions between survivors...BUT, thinking-zombie Andy, although still a minor character, is an absolute gem within this series. No major cliffhanger - even some loose ends are tied up once and for all - but the characters' fates are left uncertain.

Book 3 begins twelve YEARS after Book 1 began, but it immediately flashes back to the experiences and eventual exodus of Safari Park. There are layers and layers of action, and a horrific slaughter of the survivors...I wasn't sure how any of them were going to make it to the end of the series with everything that goes wrong. Once again, Andy the thinking-zombie steals the show.

The last book of Luke Duffy's series has one of the best endings to a zombie series that I've ever read. The epilogue is a great addition, and the characters leave a lasting impression long after the series is over.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scott Shoyer: WTF?

Scott Shoyer released a debut zombie series that really impressed me...and then he let me down BIG TIME with the second book in the series. The Hunger left me wanting more, but the sequel left me questioning Shoyer's writing style swtich-up.

The Mutation simply didn't measure up to the first book.


The Hunger had a more intimate setting, focused on the zoo with fewer characters. The Mutation has far more characters forming three storylines with the various groups constantly on the move. There are numerous new details revealed, and, with so many sudden developments taking place in one book, the writing style seemed noisy - it was difficult to settle into reading mode.

I kept putting The Mutation down after each chapter, so it took me WEEKS to finish, which is extremely rare for me. The second book has a lot of twists, but somehow lacks the suspense of The Hunger.

Despite my criticism, there are a couple of good reasons to keep reading this series:

1) The characters are unique to the zombie genre. Shoyer introduces a group of recovering addicts to the mix, and their perspective on the infection proves that Shoyer does not slack off when it comes to research.

2) There is a science fiction element to this series, and Shoyer takes it to an entirely new level in The Mutation. The ending has me waiting anxiously for book three. I have no idea how the survivors are going to live through the Extinction Level Event that Shoyer has created.

With the addition of the new characters, I would love to see Shoyer return to a more intimate view of the characters, particularly the soldiers such as Wilder. Keeping my fingers crossed...

As always,
AstraDaemon

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Is Amy Cross Losing Her Touch?

I have loved many stories by Amy Cross. I even interviewed her at the Lair. However, her latest work has been falling short of the expectations I have for Miss Cross.

The Lighthouse is not as thrilling as some of her other work, but I loved the twist towards the end (good enough for four stars). Unfortunately, the story jumps back and forth in time quite a bit, and I thought it did more harm than good to the pace of the novella. I think the story should have been told in chronological order, period. The flashback style didn't add anything extra to the suspense - it was more annoying than anything.

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018PN1XJ0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B018PN1XJ0&linkCode=as2&tag=piravszomb-20&linkId=4K2H4DZZTD52W3D3">The Cabin</a><img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=piravszomb-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B018PN1XJ0" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />The Cabin begins three years previous, with a great prologue hook. However, the story tended to be predictable. I did enjoy the paranormal element, but this is not the author's best work. I think Cross relies too much on graphic violence to propel the story. The ending was the only real surprise.

I hope this is just a phase and Amy Cross returns to excellent storytelling that made me a fan in the first place.

As always,
AstraDaemon