Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Only Skin Deep

THE GIRL WITHOUT A FACE by Rebecca R. Pierce left me with mixed feelings. First of all, I love the fairytale elements of the story, which is the reason I'm a fan of Pierce's stories. Veila's inner thoughts about her relationships with those around her kept me interested, especially with the introduction of her new friend, and, of course, the fae twists throughout the story.

Unfortunately, while this began as a coming-of-age-story, it ended as a love story, and I would have preferred one or the other. Either have Veila find her own way out of the curse, or spend more time on the romance, perhaps revealing more about her mysterious suitor. Seems almost sad Veila would be so desperate for someone to love her, she would accept a stranger without a backstory.

Normally, I would never get so hung up on the details of a short tale, but I've come to expect far more from the author. Strangely enough, I think the missing horror element Pierce usually mixes in would have given the story more depth.

As always,
AstraDaemon


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Picnic of Death

Dave is a middle aged waste of space. His days drip away in a haze of drinking, smoking and stealing from his mother. But one night the sound of screams disturbs Dave’s habitual living, and everything changes. Something evil is on the loose, snatching people from the comfort of their own homes. Dave’s neighbour’s, his family, his friends are suddenly vanishing. No one is safe. Unfortunately for Dave, it’s up to him to put a stop to it. Even if it kills him.

A LIFE TO WASTE by Andrew Lennon is another example of the author leading readers down a specific path, and then brutally shoving them off the path, straight into hell. I should have remembered Lennon never writes in a straight line, and every twist has a jagged edge to it.

Even though I had read the book's description first, I became so lost in the ruin of Dave's life, I forgot the story is about something other than Dave. As his personal drama unfolds, I wondered what it would take to undo the damage. Nothing could have prepared me for Dave's late night visitor. If I see an ice cream truck at night, I will likely crap myself.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Monday, August 12, 2019

YA Science Fiction

HEART OF A SOLDIER by Rebecca Besser is a YA science fiction story about a couple falling in love, and risking their lives to help a loved one. Definitely a story for a younger audience. Besser has created such a fascinating setting, I think the author should consider writing a mini-series around the JMB.

FUELING A JOY RIDE is told through the POV of two young aliens stranded on Earth. The story is a bit of science fiction humor. Again, written for a younger audience.

While these stories are not what I'm used to reading by the author, they are a solid starting point for future fans. I recommend following up with the Re-Civilize novellas by Besser.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday With Scribner: Redirection

EXTERNALIZE by Joshua Scribner is a supernatural tale about a girl's coming of age...sort of. Veronica is very hard on herself, and lacks the ability to stand up to the people making her life miserable. However, after a visit with the school counselor, Veronica learns to stop hating herself and focus her anger on those who mistreat her.

The twist is unusual, but set up well and explained perfectly. The ending is satisfying, knowing justice would be served.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Suicide or Murder?

THE OTHER ANN by Amy Cross is a dystopian story about a rift opening between two worlds, almost identical, but one has suffered an apocalypse. The survivors come through the rift, seeking refuge, and they're placed with their counterparts under the Rutherford Act. Ann, who is used to living in solitary is forced to take in her other self.

All goes well, until reports reveal some of the others are snapping and killing their host selves. Ann notices The Other Ann is acting strangely, and their case worker lets a secret slip, causing greater concern for the situation. Are their differences so significant, they are not nearly alike as they think? Or is the problem the two versions of Ann are too much alike?

The story flows quickly between the dialogue and action, and the ending, seemingly predictable, turns into one hell of a shocker. The very last scene is the most disturbing of all, in my opinion. Quite different from the paranormal stories Cross usually releases, but one of my new favorites.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Friday, August 9, 2019

*SPOILER WARNING*

ON TIME DELIVERY by Jason Davis is a somewhat confusing story. I get the premise: truck driver must stick to strict delivery timetable or face dire consequences, but-- oh,no! --family emergency. I could also piece together the "meat" eaters weren't exactly human, and I enjoyed the suspense. Unfortunately the storyline lost me a couple of times.

The driver remained on schedule, so why did his employers go to elaborate lengths to set him up to fail? I don't understand if they were testing him or if they never planned to keep him as a driver to begin with.

Also, what exactly happened at the end? I could not follow the author's descriptions very well. I tried rereading the ending three times, but it simply didn't make sense. I suspect I know what kind of creature Davis attempted to describe, but I can't be certain. This is the first time I couldn't visualize what the author wrote.

If you haven't read anything by Davis yet, do NOT read this one. Go read his Invisible Spiders series instead.

As always,
AstraDaemon

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Move Aside, Indiana Jones

Craig Sheehan is known by many names, but his profession is universally reviled: he's an antiquities plunderer, one who pawns his finds off to the highest bidder. After receiving a tip on the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant, he embarks on an expedition into Africa from which he never returns. His mysterious disappearance has left the world wondering: where did you go, Craig Sheehan?

WHERE DID YOU GO, CRAIG SHEEHAN? by Antonio Simon Jr. is a theological story told through multiple interviews and video. The story is full of suspense, although predictable in some places, full of shocking surprises in others. I found the video quite disturbing, and I wonder what in the hell Sheehan was thinking on approach. The ending is the perfect touch.

If this were made into a movie, I'd watch it.

As always,
AstraDaemon