Sunday, May 31, 2009

Terrorbyte by Cat Connor

Note: This review is from the unedited Manuscript version of Terrorbyte.

Having read Killerbyte and enjoying it enough to pop over to mobi-pocket and post a quick review, I was offered the opportunity to read Terrorbyte in it's final manuscript format. And it was a very interesting ride. I have never read a book in MS form (apart from my own) but I wanted to know what was going on with Ellie and Mac and Lee.

In Terrorbyte we meet a killer who uses Ellie's published book of poetry and leave lines at crime scenes. Personally addressed to her.

We see a slightly different side to Ellie in this book, there is a profound fear deep inside her; scaring her enough to ask to be withdrawn from the case. Her request is denied by Caine, he needs her on this one.

This book is more emotionally charged that the first book, Killerbyte.
Ellie's sharp wit is still intact and her inner dialogue is interesting, eye-opening and humorous at times, which is placed perfectly in the book to break the tension from the scene or to spice up needed conversation sections.

An intricate plot forms quickly (especially if you have read Killerbyte) as body bags mount up and the clues come dribbling in.

If you loved Killerbyte (and judging by the top ten ranking quite a lot of you did) then you'll love Terrorbyte as the stakes are raised and things get personal.

The book is currently with her publisher and soon to be released in the coming months. I think I will repost this review when the book comes out, just to refresh your memories.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mindset by Pat Whitaker

Mindset by Pat Whitaker
ISBN: 978-1-877513-36-7
First Edition, Wellington
Pages: 287
Copyright: Pat Whitaker (c) 2008

Mindset is a story basically of us. A future us where the world is divided between those with telepathy and those who don't (AKA The Blanks). Most of the world is link by this telepathic ability, the internet is gone and so are most things, the world is almost a utopia where everyone can read the others mind. Basic communication needs are not required.

Then there's those without telepathy. They are looked on with suspicion as their minds cannot be read. They are the undesirables. And the telepathic society has decided to put them aboard a ship and send them off to Mars.

Several ships to be exact and we meet this futuristic story with those being bundled to the final ship. Everything is automated, they have nothing to worry about, they are told. And they have not been lied to. Kind of. There are things they are not told, but they shan't be mentioned here.

Mindset is a story of like-minded humans trying to survive. The story delves into social commentary but in a way that tells the story and doesn't subtract from it. There is no Soapbox action going on in here.

For the most part, the story is tight and follows a set plot driven path. There is little characterization, but for the most part it is not needed. Although I do think that when they reached Mars and met some of the remaining members of a previous crew, the story dragged on a bit as the characters made up their minds and set a course of action, which led to a very satisfying conclusion.

This book is hard SF and will be an interesting read for into this genre.

Pat Whitaker has two books in this years short-list for the 2009 SJV awards; Mindset is one of them.


Monday, May 4, 2009

The Rising by Brian Keene

The Rising
By Brian Keene
Leisure Horror Books
ISBN: 0-8439-5201-6
321 pages

I stopped at page 138. This is the first book of Keene’s that I have read. The book is basically about a father heading hundreds of miles to get his son after something turned the dead into zombies. Not sure what the something was, scientists were blaming themselves and the thread seemed to disappear.

This book from start to finish lacks emotion, power, energy. There’s no excitement that forces me to continue reading. Maybe I’m missing something. Brian is intent on telling us what is happening. The book, I believe, won the Bram Stoker Award. It must be good, a couple of my friends side it was good but the ending was a let down. I found the first 138 pages to be a let down.

I wanted to keep reading. Laymon says, “It’s top-notch”. Cemetery Dance claims: “...the arrival of a new horror novelist” and “...epic packed with violence and gore”. Ramsey Campbell: “...horror fiction can deal with fear, not just indulge it”.

And there’s several more.

What did I miss? Keene has authored 20 books. Surely The Rising is not his first. For me; the found the characters flat and one dimensional. The style was very ‘tell not show’. The prose was flat and their emotions raged a second and then were gone. No inner conflict. Most characters were little more than props. The scenes and action was not clear and hard to follow. And only one driving goal: for Jim to reach his son who is still alive in the attic of his ex-wife’s house, hundreds of miles away.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Use once the destroy

Use once the destroy
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Night Shade Books (June 29, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN: 1-892389-67-3
Hardcover Editing from WGTN central Library

A collection of literary horror short stories.

That’s the best way to describe this collection of stories from Conrad Williams. It’s a mix of old stories and new-ish (1992-2004), all previously published. Sixteen short stories and one novella in this collection.

From the descriptions on the back I thought I was in for a hell of a ride through a nightmarish landscape of the weird and extreme. I was not. I was disappointed. Conrad Williams is a great writer, he describes so much with intense and carefully placed words that form their own illusion. Sometimes this overshadows the plot and a few times I got lost and had to reread. Everything is described beautifully but unfortunately I feel it was over-described and my imagination had little to run on. Like watching a movie the imagination is on a break, so it was with this collection.

I found only two stories that gripped me: The Owl (2004) and The Suicide Pit (1999). Literary and Drama are two forms of writing that I can’t grasp, save a select few, my mind wanders when I can’t grasp the plot or clearly see the direction the story is taking, and in most of these stories my mind wandered.

Forcing oneself to concentrate on a story is not relaxing reading. This book found a wide audience of lovers, the reviews I have read before getting this book were all positive bar a few.

The collection is a good introduction to Conrad Williams and I still plan on getting his book, “One”.

This book is for those who like their horror less visual and more internal. In this collection the horror is often mentioned or suggested but not actually in-your-face. I prefer the latter version.