REVIEWS

For review send inquiries and work to

Gary West
501 Wilson Street
Ironwood, MI 49938
[email protected]


The Ice Queen
by Terrie Leigh Relf

Beast
by Erin Donahoe

Oracle Whip
by Bradly Lastname

Move Under Ground
by Nick Mamatas

Tiger's Milk
by Levi Asher

Straight Razor
by Harold Jaffe

perVERSEities
by Kurt Newton

The NUKE Brothers
a film by AFM/Blue Moon Movies

Girl Imagined By Chance
by Lance Olsen

Banana Baby
by Louise Landes Levi

Nice Little Stories Jam Packed with Depraved Sex & Violence
by Michael Hemmingson

Szmonhfu
by Hertzan Chimera

A Slow Walk Through the Gardens of Hell
by James L. Gardner

Lullaby
by Chuck Palahniuk

Pitchblende
by Bruce Boston

eye pharmacy
by Andrew Lundwall

The Third Alternative
Issue 36, Autumn 2003

Puzzles of Flesh
by Jason Brannon

Oogie Boogie Central
by M. Stephan Lukac

Quietus
by Vivian Schilling

 

ARCHIVED REVIEWS

 

The Ice Queen
by Terrie Leigh Relf
  Beast
by Erin Donahoe

In this illustrated storybook, Arana and her six cohorts take a journey to the furthest moon of Tyraelia-The Ice Queen-to collect scientific data, look for signs of life, and to search for the missing members of three previous missions.

Combining elements of soft sci-fi and fantasy, Relf does a decent enough job describing the events taking place in this story, utilizing a crisp writing style that moves the action along at almost warp speed. But sometimes that can be a drawback. I think “The Ice Queen” could greatly benefit by being a little longer, a bit more fleshed out. What's the relationship history between Arana and Da'rael? Obviously there's sexual tension there. And who exactly is Az'Rael? I got the fact that he was Da'rael's friend, but there seemed to be something more between them-lovers' perhaps? Of course, the author may have been limited by a word count-which would explain the sparseness.

All in all, I think “The Ice Queen” is a good story, with nice illustrations and some very nice descriptions. I only wish there had been a little more to the story.

“The Ice Queen” is available from Sam's Dot Publishing.

—Gary West

  Highly sensual and entertaining, this book of poetry by Erin Donahoe is one of the best adaptations of folkloric works I've ever read. From “A Siren's Song” to “Eyes, Hair, Teeth, Darkness” (an eerie take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable) to the humorous “10 Reasons to Prefer the Beast,” Donahoe strikes a nerve few can. In adding macabre twists to the age-old tales we grew up with, Donahoe delivers us a new understanding on how modern society (at least some of us) would view these stories were they first written today.

Utilizing a master's stroke, “Beast” encompasses phrases that are at once beautiful and poignant, “At first the nightmares were simple, illusory awakenings/ with her face pressed to the scales of leathery creatures,” “And in the dark, his amber eyes, they glitter.” “Worse yet is/ the disapproval/ should I be unable/ unwilling/ uninterested in procreation,” that lead us to a dream world full of desire and contemplation, a journey deep into the inner recesses of ourselves.

“Beast” is available through Sam's Dot Publishing.

—Gary West

Oracle Whip
by Bradly Lastname
  Move Under Ground
by Nick Mamatas

And Now For Something Completly Different:

Oracle Whip may look dumb but that is just a disguise. Unconventional in its unconventions and defiant of definition; it's crude and often uncoprehendable nature belies a slick sarcastic wit and intelligence waiting just below the surface. At first glance seems like a haphazardly put together bargain basement book, the kind of pay for publishing refuse you're likly to find in someone's trash. But once you get into the meat of the book, deep into the moist recesses of Bradly Lastname's mind, you'll find a collection of prosaic ramblings and rants, absurd quotes and quips, and a handful of story elements that are quite unlike anything you've probably seen before.

I found the experience throughly disorenting. Which in all likelyhood is the point. A bit like mental terrorism: the ideas expressed run in, ransack your head with random ideas, and leave it to the poor surviving cells to sort some semblence of sense from the chaos. This is nonsense disguised as entertainment and intelligent conversation disguised as nonsense. And people unable to deal with or understand that need not apply.

In the end, it inspired me more than it annoyed me. I liked it, but I'll be damned if I really understood it.

—Cake Earthhead

 

Have you ever thought to yourself, "In a cosmic battle for the future of the world who would win; Jack Kerouac or Chthulu?" OK, you're right, it never even occurred to me either before I heard about Move Under Ground. Which is why it's just about the most preposterously cool premise I've heard for a book in a long time. So of course I had to read it.

Move Under Ground has more going for it than just a good gimmick. Mamatas smoothly overlays the dark, secretive world of H.P. Lovecraft's with the hallucinatory stream-of-conscious commentary of Kerouac at his best to produce one hell of a road trip. The Chthulu world seen through a wasted beat's eyes allows for lavishly horrifying visions. With William Burroughs as Kerouac's sidekick on the ride there are darkly hilarious moments as well.

What really makes this book a treasure is the prose. Move Under Ground is a mine of electric phrases and neon imagery bursting from blackness. But don't try to read this book in the midst of distractions. It requires concentration and imagination to picture everything Mamatas describes.

* Hardcover: 185 pages
* Publisher: Night Shade Books
* ISBN: 1892389916
$25.00

—Jennifer Barnes

66 Stories About 33 Women
by Michael Hemmingson
  Beyond Damnation
by Wendy Brewer

1.
I ever tell you about the time I went to Chicago? Chi-Town? No? Good times to be had there, good times. Got my groove on—hey, it was a trade convention, you know how that is. Did a lot of reading on the plane, and during my down time. One of the best moments was indulging my tendency toward literary promiscuity.

2.
It’s not too often you get to go through 33 women in one volume. It can be done, of course, and who better to try than Michael Hemmingson (see Bibliophile Gangbang Vol. 3). Obviously, when running through so many experiences there are going to be some that aren't to your taste. However, the sheer magnitude of the voyeurism in this book should far outweigh the negatives. Well, some of that scat stuff was taken a little too over the top even for me, but what do I know about having a good time? Either way the quick pacing keeps time with the blood racing through your veins and, er, other parts of your anatomy as Hemmingson keeps upping the ante.

3.
You don't need to be in Chicago or anywhere near it to enjoy this book. Hemmingson's collage of styles, voices, and unique characters will provide a satisfying experience anywhere you go.

*** out of 5

$7.95
Blue Moon Books
http://www.bluemoonbooks.com

—John Lawson

 

Deftly interspersing realistic dialog with unflinching plots and a touch of humor, Brewer keeps it interesting. In “Andrea Gives Good Head” a bizarre sexual scenario unfolds that is as original as it is gruesome. “The Blood of Life” takes a familiar theme just a step further, railroading the reader through one exceedingly brutal act after another. “Sins of Witches” starts off with some of the familiar moves but, halfway through, suddenly lurches to the side and ducks behind you—the reader finds themselves becoming the prey with this unexpected twist.

The tales in this collection will not only entertain but will keep you guessing. This work certainly isn’t recommended for the prudish or the feint of heart, as Brewer never shields you from the impact of horrors she documents so well. From the supernatural to the psychological, from personal terrors to societal nightmares, Beyond Damnation runs the gamut of dark fiction without breaking a sweat. Fans of traditional horror who are looking for rising voices in the scene should seek this book out.

*** out of 5 stars

$5
Double Dragon Publishing
http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com

—John Lawson

Tiger's Milk
by Levi Asher
  Straight Razor
by Harold Jaffe

Let’s get this straight: Levi Asher is a poet brimming with compassion and intellect, capable of weaving everyday experiences with cunning observations to cause the reader to emote time and time again.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness this action poet performing his works on multiple occasions. “Chicken Wire Mother,” written with Mark Napier, is so powerful that you find yourself ruminating on it time and time again, no matter how unpleasant it is. Several people at Asher's reading were nearly reduced to tears by this piece.

“A Jpeg War” focuses, with the precision of smart-weapon technology, on how the media/Internet shapes not only our political perceptions, but also the very nature of our wars:

it was a jpeg war
a politeness war
an apology war
a crazy day war
a memories of yesterday war
a statue war
a prayer book war

Asher goes on to compare the waging of battles to simulations on a Nintendo Gameboy, to children battling with Pokemon cards, to a reality show that—9/11 aside—leaves us in the United States unaffected.

The hectic slam-bang of modern life permeates this collection, battling with mediations on the quiet moments one finds amid the skyscrapers and carnage of New York City. If you yearn for the Beat Poets of days gone by your wait is over—Levi Asher has kept the tradition alive and well.

**** out of 5


$6
Literary Kicks
http://www.litkicks.com

—John Lawson

 

Interested in piercing the underbelly of our corrupted/ing society? Want to see the omnipresent/potent/impotent eye gouged by the virtuosic collaborations of authors and artists on the edge? Tired of the standard narrative you’ve heard time and again since mass media first sand its hooks into you?

Yeah man, tell me more.

Come on, you know how it works. All give and no take makes Jack a dull boy.

Okay, Jack. I'm sexually liberated and indulge every chance I get. Just don't try to touch me.

Then this book will fit like a “Latex Glove.”

Sweet. A body condom. So I won't have to worry about my attire when they find me. Find me after my coronary. From when I do a manic dance with my fingers up my backside for too long.

Exactly. See: “Things to Do During Time of War.”

War? Only war I'm into is the war of the sexes/genders/gender identities, hon.

Read two “Straight Razor(s)” and call me in the morning.

Razors? Is this getting violent kinky, or violent violent? I'll take either. Both even—I’m no stranger to three-way.

And I thought you were my first. Well, I’m recommending a radical course of “Necro.”

Okay, but only if I can cross dress during.

Don't worry, I won't tell Geraldo Rivera or Tipper Gore. Go read Straight Razor and try not to become a mark for society.

**** out of 5 stars

$7
FC2
http://www.fc2.org

—John Lawson

perVERSEities
by Kurt Newton
  The NUKE Brothers
a film by AFM/Blue Moon Movies

Newton opens with the lines “with feet deformed/ we tiptoe/ carrying trays of slaughtered meat” —this not only describes the process by which the author approaches his poetry, but how the reader will feel after experiencing his work. Yes, the slaughtered verbiage of this dark mastermind stays stuck in the darkest crevices of your brain, and no amount of mental floss is capable of cleansing the stain.

Experience the virgin sacrifice from the monster’s point of view, and receive further driver’s education by learning how to brake for Satan’s progeny when they cross the road. Travel on carnal cruise lines or stay at honeymoon lodges where tentacled creatures make your first night together a sexy one. No matter what direction you flee in Newton’s world is so fundamentally ill that even the mundane becomes a horror of mythical proportions.

Gruesome, violent, sexually depraved illustrations by Chris Friend add a third dimension to this collection. Those with a love of horror poetry will enjoy these perVERSEities from beginning to end.

*** out of 5

$4
Naked Snake Press
http://www.nakedsnakepress.com

 

The NUKE Brothers takes place 35 years A.B. (after the bombs) in the lonely, hardscrabble post-apocalyptic countryside. It chronicles the trials of survivors Duke and Zeph as they struggle to keep each other alive. The brothers, one dumb, the other dumber, are comic yet sympathetic characters. Author Scott C. Carr's ironic vision is definitely present in the brothers' bickering interchanges. James Kloiber and Marc Nelson do a great job bringing these knuckleheads to life with hilarious gestures and facial expressions.

The movie runs about 40 minutes and though it is certainly low budget there is a lot of shot variation and plenty of convincingly devastated buildings and locations to feast your eyes on. It has a lively soundtrack featuring original songs by the Buzzrats and an original score by Roger Bartlett (Texas Chainsaw Massacre). This is definitely a must-have for DIY and low-budget film fans but will also be of interest to average movie goers as well. The film is based on "the continuing adventures of fat man and little boy" so perhaps we will see more of their adventures in the future.

$12.95
For more info or to order visit www.apocalypsefiction.com

—Jennifer Barnes

Banana Baby
by Louise Landes Levi
  Girl Imagined by Chance
by Lance Olsen

When I began "Banana Baby" I thought that I would be reading, in chronological order, little more than a condensed version of Ms. Levi’s life in verse, "I/ was born on the day Staffenburg attempted to assasinate [sic] Adolf Hitler." "At/ five my mother dropped me on my head" "My first anthology at the age of 8 disappeared." But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself thrown, deftly I might add, into a world of self-reflection "I’m/ definitely weird, just like everyone/ says," fear "just scared to death,/ to be Fucked in the ass after the guy abandons us" politics "Will/ Bush really bomb the shit/ out of the Iraqians,/ just because his Dad says this war’s Cool," and death "…of/ my death,/ nearer, I am/ Nearer/". Add to this a montage of interspersed images and observations from everyday life "Danny/ knocked- up/ the daughter of/ the/ MAYOR (or ‘vice’ mayor)" "Angus’/ music/ a mix between anarchist & sacred ART," "Sitting in alt. Holloween/ Day of Dead. New computer. Somewhat strange." and you have a book of poetry that is unpretentious, uplifting and definitely worth the short time it takes to read; an autobiographical gem in a haze of unpredictability.

"Banana Baby" is available for free at Poetic Inhalation

—Gary West

 

This book is about a couple who decide to go against the social norm and not have children. The pressures are too strong and eventually they do create a child of sorts. But this book is so much more than the story. It is the ultimate proof that a sum can add up to something bigger than a collection of parts. It's careful craftsmanship of minute details that make this book precious. For instance, I will always treasure the knowledge that a group of ravens is known as an "unkindness."

There's a lot to be said about the skill with which "Girl Imagined by Chance" is told. First of all Olsen transforms the reader into the protagonist. All the action is told from the reader's perspective, "you" do this and "you" look at that. I have read more than a few pieces done in this way but none of them was nearly as successful as Olsen's. He doesn't tell "you" how to feel as in "your heart drops" though. In fact the book never describes anyone's emotions, instead the details let you feel them for yourself. I don't think I've read another book where the love between a couple is as evident as it is in this one.

What I've mentioned is only a smattering of the things that make this book so fascinating. I haven't even gone into the use of photography and how it effects perspective. "Girl Imagined by Chance" is the kind of book that scholars could spend hours and hours studying, papers could be written and classes could be held on it but in the end the best thing is always just to read and experience the book for yourself.

$13.95
FC2
ISBN: 1-573-66103-1

—Jennifer Barnes

Nice Little Stories Jam-Packed with Depraved Sex & Violence
by Michael Hemmingson
  Szmonhfu
by Hertzan Chimera

For those of you who didn’t notice, there’s a madman with his fist in your slime-hole. His name is Michael Hemmingson and he’s the Elvis of literary offensiveness, the Ghandi of intellectual rage. Don’t you see him? The one right behind you, in the leather jacket and shades. He’s just finished doing time for the mob and is ready to commit incestuous crimes because of the strange disease going around, all while wearing a cape and proclaiming himself “JizMan.” No, no, he’s the one masturbating with a pristine copy of Lord Byron’s first edition, assassinating pimps and the jury that put him away even as he pimps out his granddaughter (who happens to also be his daughter, if you know what I mean).

Oh, wait…those are his characters. Or are they? Hemmingson is as straight to the point, dead serious convincing as they come. Either he’s done these things and needs to be locked away, or he’s capable of doing these things and needs to be locked away. Far, far away. And so will you after reading Nice Little Stories. There’s no excuse for not hunting this book down (other than preserving your sterility). Sure, it ain’t new, but if you find a first edition you can use it for more than just reading, heheheh. Uh-oh—I seem to have caught Hemmingon’s “Beguiling Malady.” Got to run before the “ass pirates of LaJolla” arrive, but you’ll be able to find me in a dark place real soon. Sooner than you think. And when we meet you’d better pray you have a copy of Nice Little Stories on you!

RATING: ***** out of 5

$5.00
Cyber-Psycho’s AOD
ISBN: 1-886988-00-5

—John Lawson

 

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Hertzan Chimera was on acid when he wrote "Szmonhfu." Highly surrealist and at times difficult to keep up with, this novel of sex, violence and not-so-general bizarreness exposes what I like most about Chimera’s work: mind bending images coupled with an alternate view of the world as we see it.

"Szmonhfu" (pronounced "Je me’n fous") follows Jane Templeton Rice, exotic redhead beauty, who may or may not be the result of biogenetics—something that is not made clear by the author—on an erotic romp that knows few bounds. Tainted by blood baths, Jane’s relationship with Paul—an egocentric artist who seems to want to bed anyone and everyone—and a subplot (?) featuring an alien race of super beings (the Szmonhfu), Chimera succeeds more often than not in the telling of this tale that took thirteen years to write. Though not for everyone, I think most of Chimera’s fans will wallow in the sheer complexity of this book and scream for more. As for the rest of you who have yet to taste this highly talented author’s work, one final caveat: be prepared to read "Szmonhfu" more than once and, as Chimera states in his author’s note: Hang on to your hats!

RATING: **** out of 5

First published by Eraserhead Press in 2001 and now out of print, "Szmonhfu" will once again be available under the title "The Creation Game."

—Gary West

A Slow Walk Through the Gardens of Hell
by James L. Gardner
  Lullaby
by Chuck Palahniuk

Let’s get something straight, you and me, unless you want to get fragged. You listening? All right then. First thing you need to know is that this book is not about the Vietnam War; it’s about the more aptly named Southeast Asia War. It’s about men who were academics coerced by the CIA to fly to Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam and figure out why the USA wasn’t dominating these countries. The real kick in the nuts is when bureaucratic infighting causes the CIA program to end, forcing the academics to be reassigned to combat duty.

Oh, and one more thing—that knife against your throat is being held by Face. Face, who defied the odds and survived multiple operations in the jungles. Face, who learned quickly that protocol gets people killed—many of them just boys—and started slitting the throats of commanding officers.

I know you’re listening now. I wasn’t ready to listen either, not until I opened the pages and was confronted with the skin-piercing immediacy of Gardner’s prose. Page-turner doesn’t suffice in this case…A Slow Walk Through the Gardens of Hell is more like the cobra you find next to you in bed. You can’t take your attention from it, not for a second. At once a profound tragedy and comedic milestone, the hidden history exposed in Gardner’s biographic accounts will carve themselves into your consciousness forever.

RATING: **** out of 5

$18.95
Wings of Fire Press
ISBN: 1-879222-05-1

—John Lawson

 

Widowers and widows, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ditzy Wiccans, necrophilia, gender swapping, homogeny, and something called “fashion rape.” No, it’s not exactly about all that, but these are the building blocks of the what could be Palahniuk’s greatest work. With his patented sardonic minimalism the author explores what would happen if our whims and impulses were given a life of their own, even as we live in a society that intrudes in our most private spaces. How do you fight the bad guy when the bad guy is your gut reaction, the few angry words that run through your head before you even realize it?

It’s a rare treat to see speculative fiction slipping into the “literary” world with such success. It’s also a treat to see Palahniuk expanding on his traditional story framework to break out of the mold he built with his first four novels. Lullaby can be called thrilling, hilarious, “a real page turner,” and more, but ultimately it’s enlightening. This book is more haunting than the ghost-filled houses sold by real estate agent Helen Hoover Boyle, or the dark past of protagonist Carl Streator. With that in mind I have to commit an editorial misdeed and rate it 6 out of 5 stars.

RATING: ****** out of 5

$24.95
Doubleday
ISBN: 0-385-50447-0

—John Lawson

Pitchblende
by Bruce Boston
  eye pharmacy
by Andrew Lundwall

It’s not often I receive a request to review an author with Bruce Boston’s stature. A multiple Rhysling Award winning poet and the first Grand Master Award winner of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, I expected Pitchblende to be a rare and rarified treat. I wasn’t disappointed.

Masterfully presented in three sections by editor Michael Arnzen—Flesh, Bone, Blood—the poems in this collection range from the outstanding to the brilliant. There wasn’t a piece of work I didn’t personally find technically and aesthetically flawless. Beginning with FLESH BONE BLOOD, "If the lines of a poem are its bones, / and the words in those lines are its flesh, / then its blood must be the rhythm it sounds, …" to CURSE OF THE SKELETON’S WIFE, "In bed her body / has become / a barren course / of bends and angles. …" to my personal favorite, PAVANE FOR A CYBER-PRINCESS, "The speckled rind of her integument / has been scrubbed clean by nanosolvents. / Internal organs justified with a vengeance. …" to SHE WAS THERE FOR HIM THE LAST TIME, "an angel of thanatos and calculation / passing unharmed and vaguely / saintlike or as the kindred of demons …" these small masterpieces instill emotions few, if any, other poets in the speculative field are capable of.

RATING: ***** out of 5

"Pitchblende" is available through Dark Regions

—Gary West

 

Over the past year or so, Andrew Lundwall has become one of my favorite poets. I have found few other writers with the ability to play with words as if he invented them, and structure phrases to give them an entirely new meaning from what they must originally have been intended. eye pharmacy, deftly and concisely, is a perfect example of this talent.

From the beginning of this collection, we are presented with a world not quite what we are accustomed to, yet not quite unrecognizable. All 26 poems are untitled and in some almost metaphysical way, interlinked. "blink dresses nod / of the hours’ clock …" "right there is the center / the crux of spinal monogamy …" "i pick up a sewer-lid / and make whole / what has vanished …" "it wasn’t for me to decide however / and if this clock runs out of juice …" "the ringing bats make whole / what has forgotten of last-time / over-time is through the hours’ …

Of all of Lundwall’s books I have read (and I think it might be all of them) this one strikes me as his best. And that’s a good thing, as I can only imagine what pleasures his future books will present.

RATING: **** stars out of 5

"eye pharmacy" can be found at xPress (ed)

—Gary West

The Third Alternative
by Issue 36, Autumn 2003
  Puzzles of Flesh
by Jason Brannon

Chock full of stories, columns, an interview with Trevor Hoyle, artwork and more, this finely crafted UK magazine is a treat unto itself. Andy Cox and his team deserve kudos for putting together one of the finest looking periodicals I’ve had the pleasure to read in quite some time.

Inside the glossy cover artwork of Jean-Marc Rulier, you will find a bevy of informative articles, artwork, and of course, stories. Beginning with Lucius Shepard’s novella "The Park Sweeper," and on through fiction by David Ira Cleary, Karen Fishler, Andrew Humphrey and Martin Simpson, I found the stories to be varied and for the most part satisfying. Preceding each story is a small piece of art by the likes of Mike Dubisch, David Ho and Edward Noon. The only problem I have with these outstanding pieces of art is that I wish they were larger. Interspersing the fiction are regular columns by Christopher Fowler, Allen Ashley and John Paul Catton, and my favorite piece in this issue, "You Must Taste Blood: The Films of Sam Raimi" by Jaspre Bark. This article is well worth the cover price of $7 in of itself. Sandwiching all this is a mostly tongue-in-cheek editorial by Justina Robson about the war on genre, Peter Tennant’s reviews of novels by such authors as Dan Simmons and Nick Sagan and a Q & A by Sandy Auden with Paul Di Filippo.

RATING: **** out of 5

The Third Alternative is available through TTA Press

—Gary West

 

This collection of eighteen stories showcases the author flexing his muscles in several areas, including his singular ability to take what, at first, seems to be a typical horror trope and twist it into something altogether unexpected. Where other authors in the field fail to follow through and take scenarios a step further, Brannon not only takes that step but makes a mad dash. The end result, when joined with his masterfully vivisected characters and razor sharp prose, is one of the most compelling horror collections I’ve read in a long time.

The book opens with the sketch of an “unusual” medical examiner who lives—dies?— vicariously through each of his guests in the morgue. Story by story we discover just how the corpses came to him, and with each successive story the sketch grows into a bas relief unearthed from the bleakest frontiers of human existence. Take, for instance, the best friend who inadvertently arranges for your loved one to be tortured through eternity by the unleashed specter of a serial killer. But it is not merely the plots that develop the sensation of horror; Brannon has a keen eye for finding the humanity in any circumstance. In “Hole in the Sky” the reader is drawn in by the continuing drama between between Walter, a retired preacher, and Jack, an ex-military tough guy, far before the supernatural elements are introduced.

The only “puzzling” thing here is how the author has managed to keep from becoming a household name by now. I realize that the so-called boom years of horror have come and gone, but it seems to me only a matter of time now before the mass market companies take notice of Jason Brannon.

RATING: **** out of 5

$13.95
Silver Lake Publishing

—John Lawson

Oogie Boogie Central
by M. Stephan Lukac
  Quietus
by Vivian Schilling

Milo Tucker and Ted Munsch—two names you're not likely to forget anytime soon.

Milo Tucker is a store detective, a hero of sorts anyone can relate to. The author has created a believable character you will laugh with and root for. You'll feel his pain as you follow him in search of Ted Munsch. You'll feel your heartbeat quicken and at times you will forget to take a breath. When Milo enters an area where terror dwells, you'll feel the panic long before he does.

Ted Munsch is a villain you will fear. As you turn the pages, his presence will make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, even in your own home. You'll find yourself looking at those around you in a different light. Your distrust will give you away as you begin to shy away from those you thought you knew. I mean, really...how well do you know your neighbors and co-workers?

Oogie Boogie Central is a page-turner that will take all your senses and heighten them to a new level. You'll laugh in all the right places and when the killings begin, you'll wish the author gave you a few seconds to catch yourself. He won't, but you'll wish it all the same.

If this is what we can expect from a first novel, M. Stephen Lukac is a name
to remember. With his vivid imagery, memorable characters and his method of
putting the reader directly into each scene, he is fast becoming a "must
read."

RATING: **** out of 5 *'s

Medium Rare Books
$15.95

—Elizabeth Peake

 

Imagine being fortunate enough to be one of five survivors who managed to live through a chartered plane crash. As you make your way around the wreckage, you view the bodies of dead friends and colleagues and are thankful your life was spared. The twisted metal of the plane and lifeless bodies still inside remind you Death has spared you, but just barely.

But, what if your rescuers dismiss your memories as drug-induced visions because you were found strapped in your seatbelt and not wandering around the crash site? What if your visions become stronger as the days pass? What if no one believes you, not even those you love the most?

Kylie O'Rourke is one of the surviving passengers and is certain she and the others cheated Death by mistake. And she is certain It is following her and the others, waiting for the chance to succeed where It had previously failed.

The storyline of Quietus is complex as it examines the mythology of angels, demons and the afterlife. Forget the light at the end of the tunnel or the images of angelic cherubs, because the author won't allow you those thoughts. Instead, she will take you into darkness where she will lock you in suffocating places and into dreams best left forgotten.

Vivian Schilling takes the reader on a thought-provoking ride of terror and suspense. Her characters are vivid, bold and strong-willed. Quietus is a page-turner that will make you question your own faith, dreams and perceptions. Unique in its ability to tackle religious beliefs without overbearing the reader and yet, its gothic and dark undertone can't help but sway the reader to recall their own teachings as well as desire answers to the questions hidden deep within us all.

RATING: **** 1/2 out of 5 *'s

Penguin Putnam
$14.00

—Elizabeth Peake

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