Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lucky's Girl

Lucky's Girl, by William Holloway, is a story about an inherently bad person that manages to tap into an ancient evil in his home town that he then uses to manipulate others, with some drastic results. This story was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I felt like Holloway was trying to do too many things at once with this story, but not quite succeeding with all of them. There are anthropomorphic wolves which I felt were unnecessary (he could have still used the wolves to shock readers without giving one of them a point of view), sex scenes that went on a bit too long for anything other than an erotic horror novel, and a constant repetition by a few characters that something just isn't right with Lucky (that was almost as annoying as the wolves). But even with all of the problems I just mentioned, Holloway can write. I loved his descriptions of the bleak town that has everything going against it as well as his ability to switch points of view with the main characters. I was never confused over whose inner thoughts I was privy to at any given time, and they had some really interesting things to say. But most importantly, I was entertained. This novel is divided into three sections and two epilogues, and while the two epilogues fell flat for me, I had a great time reading the wild ride that was part three. I won't mention what happens in that section as I hate spoilers, but it was entertaining enough to make me forgive the other problems with the book. Is Lucky's Girl perfect? Absolutely not. It is extremely gory and entertaining though, and in the end that's all that really matters. 

I give it three and a half cocktails.

You can purchase this book by clicking the following links:  Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and Noble

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Under a Colder Sun

In Under a Colder Sun, Greg James introduces us to his latest creation, Khale the Wanderer. Khale is an antihero; he is a murderer and a mercenary. But there is something compelling about this character that makes me want to read on about him and his exploits. James uses Khale to explore some dark story lines in this book, which is the first in what is hopefully a long series. James introduces a new world with a very grim religion and mythology where there is little hope of overcoming the darkness that surrounds the people. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys darker fantasy novels, and I am looking forward to the next one in the series.

I give it five cocktails.

This book can be purchased by clicking the following links:  Amazon US,  Amazon UK

Saturday, June 14, 2014


White is Tim Lebbon's brilliant post apocalyptic novella. This isn't a zombie apocalypse, or one of destruction after a nuclear war. Instead, Lebbon brings us undefined monsters in an eerie landscape of unending snow. He introduces us to an assorted cast of characters each with their own neurosis; they are all trapped together in a house where they were originally charged with doing research on what was going wrong with the environment.
Lebbon uses his superb writing skills to slowly draw the reader into an increasingly terrifying situation with no means of escape. This is a book I would recommend to anyone, no matter the genre they normally read, just so they could experience the surreal and terrifying world that Lebbon has created.

As a bonus there is a short story included with this novella. It perfectly compliments the bleak tone that is in White. Lebbon gives his readers a little something extra with this emotional story of a family that has been torn apart and a husbands undying loyalty.

I give it five cocktails.

You can purchase this book by clicking the following links: Amazon US,  Amazon UK

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Legacy of the Rose

Kasey Michaels' Legacy of the Rose is a bit of a departure from her normal lighter regency romance novels, and it is a very good one. Michaels has a gift for storytelling that she fully uses here to explore some very interesting and complex characters as well as some twisting and turning plot lines.

Michaels explores the darker side of human sexuality and the violence that can so often go hand in hand with it. She brings the reader fully realized characters rather than just the archetypal hero and villain that are so often used in this genre. I don't want to discuss the plot, as it is rather complicated and it's always better to just let it unfold as you read it, but it does follow what you would expect in general from a regency romance. But Michaels does more here than just give the reader an afternoon diversion. Legacy of the Rose is a book filled with a dark intensity that is often sadly missing from regency romance, and it is a book that will likely stay with me for a long time to come.

I give it five cocktails.

You can purchase this book by clicking the following links: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and Noble

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thin Line (Jack Noble #3)

Thin Line is the latest in the Jack Noble thriller series by L.T. Ryan. I had gotten hooked on Ryan's books with the Noble Intentions part of this series, and his latest doesn't disappoint. Thin Line is set prior to the Noble Intentions series (Ryan tends to write books out of chronological order), but this poses no problem as the book also works as a stand alone. The reader is immediately plunged into the action as we follow Jack and his friend and fellow assassin, Bear, on a government issued hit on a rouge operative. What they find is not what they expect, and then a mystery unfolds along with the non stop action.

Ryan has an excellent writing style that he uses to keep up his pulse pounding action sequences along with what turn out to be very likable and engaging characters. Some very bad things happen to his characters, and they way Ryan depicts it allows for a visual almost like a movie playing out. This makes for the sort of reading experience where you are so immersed you forget what room of the house you are in and are startled by the slightest noise. At least, that is what it was like for me.  This is one of those books that has stayed with me long after I have finished reading, and I can't wait for the next one. Highly recommended.

I give it five cocktails.

You can purchase this book by clicking the following links: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and Noble

Monday, March 31, 2014

Stuck On You

Stuck On You, an aptly named novella, is the latest work from Jasper Bark. In this work, Bark pushes limits in the always interesting erotic/horror sub-genre, and he did it well enough to make me dry heave while reading. This is the perfect read for those of you who like to be disgusted and maybe a little turned on at the same time. Bark manages the latter of those two with a scene that, if it was excerpted from the rest of the novella, would fit in with any erotic or romance novel. But this is a horror story, so it only manages to underscore the disgusting awful things that can happen through random chance and some very bad behavior. Bark even manages to throw in some of his signature humor with the underlying moral of the story. Want to misbehave? Well here is what might happen...  

And happen it does. There is going to be some point in this story that triggers overwhelming disgust in every reader. It may be at different spots for different people, but you are guaranteed to gag while reading this one. Also, as an added bonus, there is some very nice artwork included in the novella.

I give it five cocktails. (I need them after reading this.)

You can purchase this book by clicking the following links: Amazon USAmazon UK

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Skin Games: A Crime Drama

Adam Pepper is good. Skin Games is the third book I have read by him, and, like the other two times, I was immediately pulled in by his prose and the way he can set the tone to a story. Skin Games starts of with a couple of mob enforcers harassing a restaurant for protection money. The daughter of the restaurant owner is told to go to a man she knows as Mr. Skin for help, but she wants to know why he is willing to help her. From here we have a narrative within the story told by the central character, Mr. Skin, or Sean as we are soon to learn. It is a brutal story told in a very matter of fact, almost emotionless, way. With this, Pepper is able to explore several characters that really are not good people, but perhaps they were made that way by their circumstances. We have Sean who was abandoned by his father and then progresses into worse and worse life choices, but for him this is a natural progression. Sean's mother is perhaps the most sympathetic character doing what she thinks she has to in order to survive, then there is Nicole. Nicole, while not outwardly bad, is very self centered and manipulative; she doesn't seem to grasp how her actions will affect others. 

What I like most about this book is it's straight-forwardness; Pepper never once tries to use his role as the author to push his own opinions of the characters on the reader. He simply lays them bare and we see everything through the eyes of Sean and it allows the reader time to think and form their own opinions. What actions are ever justified when you are trying to find a way out of poverty, when there are no other role models other than gangsters? It is an interesting story format to use; Pepper delivers an entertaining and dark read but at the same time seems to have put forth something that begs to be thought about once you are done. The novel simply is; the reader can get out of it whatever they choose. It can be something that lends fodder for debate about poverty and crime and it's effects on the community, or simply an entertaining, easy read. The choice is yours. 

I give it five cocktails.

You can purchase this book by clicking the following links: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes and Noble

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Blood Witch

The Blood Witch is the first in a young adult fantasy series by D. S. Nielsen. While I'm not normally a fan of YA, I did enjoy this. Nelsen's story begins with teen-aged Jak and his friend Brigette unwittingly becoming ensnared by the Blood Witch when they stumble across her prison. From there, Brigette is possessed by the witch and leaves Jak; he then goes on a quest to find her and meets up with several endearing and entertaining characters along the way. The quest as a story format has been used by everyone from Chretien de Troyes to Robert Jordan, and it serves Nielsen quite well. With it he is able to take the reader along on a journey with some elements of surprise and danger, along with obstacles along the way that can only be overcome with the motley group that Jak has gathered. 

Nielsen does have a few problems throughout the story when he is writing descriptions; the prose tends to get a bit repetitive. Other than that I found this to be an enjoyable story, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I would say this book is fine for young teens even though it has quite a bit of violence. The violent scenes are depicted in a way that isn't too graphic. 

I give it three cocktails.

This book can be purchased by clicking the following links:  Amazon USAmazon UK

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Transfiguration of Mr. Punch

The Transfiguration of Mr. Punch is a beautiful and unusual book that that was published by the small specialty imprint, Egaeus Press. It is described as a literary triptych, and I believe that is an accurate representation of the three novellas contained in the work. The three novellas in question have three different authors: Charles Schneider, D.P. Watt, and Cate Gardner. Before I get into a review of each one, I should first explain what Punch and Judy shows are for those who may not know. Punch and Judy is a traditional English puppet show that, while intended for children, is actually quite violent. Add to that the creepy nature of the traditional Punch puppet, and you have the perfect subject for three horror novellas. Here is a link for a YouTube clip of a Punch and Judy show, and one for the Wikipedia page.

Charles Schneider starts off the storytelling with his essay, The Show That Must Never Die. This was a well written fictional essay that contains a few interesting stories about the origins of Punch and Judy and the writer of the essay's own conclusions about what all of this means. While it does have a satisfying ending, for me the reading to get there was a bit tedious at times. I think that is more of a reflection of my own personal tastes rather than any fault of Schneider's. I am not fond of an essay format used in fiction, so this was my least favorite of the three novellas, but I am sure some people will love it.

The second novella has a big change in style and format, as D.P. Watt writes a story that contains several stories within the story. Memorabilia was as well done as it was creepy. It starts off with the reader getting to see one side of a conversation of someone who is selling some Punch and Judy memorabilia to a second character that isn't really given a voice. It allows the reader to imagine a sort of play where there is the main character talking to someone unseen, just off stage. This main character then introduces several vignettes where the stories within the story are played out. These vignettes were excellent; my favorite is titled "The Mechanised Eccentric".  This one entails a Punch-like figure that has been brought in as a tutor for a class of art students who are then to put on a play of their own. Things become more sinister as the story progresses, and the ending is one that has really stayed with me.

The third and final novella, This Foolish & Harmful Delight, is by one of my favorite writers, Cate Gardner. I always have high expectations when I pick up something by Cate Gardner, and she certainly does not disappoint here. The story begins in hell, where Punch and Judy have been living along with a mountain of body parts and a man named Stijin. I won't say more than that about the plot as this is a story that is best left for the reader to discover all on their own. Gardner's sense of the whimsical mixed with the horrific is perfectly blended here. Her unique style completely immerses the reader in the terrifying world that she has created where Punch and Judy, as well as all of the other characters, are indeed transfigured. This novella was my favorite of the three and I think I may just have to sit down and read it again.

I am highly recommending this book, and as of right now, it is still available from Egaeus Press. It is a limited edition book, so when they're gone, they're gone. But if it is no longer available I would recommend seeing what else they do have in stock as this was a well crafted, well edited book. It is a lithography printed, sewn hardcover with pictures of Punch and Judy on the colored end-papers.

I give it five cocktails.

You can purchase this title by clicking here for as long as the title is in print.