Summer’s End by Lisa Morton
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / September 1, 2013

Summer’s End by Lisa Morton My rating: 1 of 5 stars Occult nonsense and boring at that Let’s instead start at the very beginning: The cover. It looks cheap and badly done. Tons of artifacts, especially around the arms. The text looks like it belongs to some romance novel, not a wanna-be occult horror “novella”. And, oh, yes, it certainly is a “novella” which is good because much more than the about 24.000 words this thing offers would have been insufferable. Since some endorsements are placed prominently at the beginning, let’s see what others have to say. A certain Gary A. Braunbeck states it’s “the best work she’s ever done” – well, thanks, Gary, for the warning. He adds another notable statement “Don’t start reading with any preconceived notions about horror *or* storytelling because they’ll be shredded into confetti […]”. He’s completely right: I’ve always thought storytelling was about making the reader feel, breathe and live within the story. Gary wouldn’t agree, I guess, if he thinks what Morton does is storytelling. According to some Ray Garton, Morton “has created something so strikingly unique that it stands alone in the genre.” – Yes, I don’t think I’ve ever read something…

The Hitler Diaries by Jim Williams

The Hitler Diaries by Jim Williams My rating: 2 of 5 stars This certainly isn’t a bad book. Unfortunately, it shows that this book was its author’s first novel. The story is fairly convoluted with a lot of characters most of which are expendable and don’t really add much to the book. The decision not to do additional work  before this re-publication was, in my eyes, a mistake since the story could have benefited greatly from some down-stripping to the essentials.  For me, as a German, the numerous mistakes (e. g. the wrong spelling “Fraülein” instead of “Fräulein”) are fairly annoying and could have easily been avoided. Furthermore, we all know what happened some time after the original publication of this book – the faked “Hitler diaries” appeared in a German magazine. Knowing that didn’t really help my enjoyment of this book. All in all, I’d have advised against re-publishing this book. It certainly had its time and its merits but its time has passed long ago and its merits are overshadowed by the mistakes of a young ambitious author.  View all my reviews

Code of Thieves by Joyce Yarrow

Code of Thieves by Joyce Yarrow My rating: 2 of 5 stars Another book I got from the “Early Reviewers” program on LibraryThing which I’m grateful for, thanks. Unfortunately, “Code of Thieves” has a lot of flaws.I’ll skip the summary which others have already done well. The problems start with the characters – none of them, including the hero, are believable human beings. In fact, they don’t get a chance to be because the author simply lacks the talent for characterisations; let’s look at Jo Epstein herself: We don’t ever get to know what really drives her. Yes, she worries about her mother’s (relative) well-being but she never displays any real emotions. She observes her mother and everyone else but she never really seems emotionally invested – apart from the obligatory relationship she jumps into and even there we we get to see the carnal side but the emotional one is severely lacking. Everyone in this book is, at best, very roughly outlined but there’s no substance to any of the characters. They all behave like any reader of mysteries will expect them, too. In contrast to well-written books, though, the reader won’t really care what happens to anyone –…

The Bourbon Street Ripper by Leo King
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / December 15, 2012

The Bourbon Street Ripper by Leo King My rating: 4 of 5 stars Just when I was thinking nothing really good would ever come out of giveaways, I got “The Bourbon Street Ripper” (BSR). Put off at first by the lurid title, I quickly got drawn into the book. As usual, I’ll skip summarising the story as others will have done this before. In short, it’s basically a well-done mystery novel and, in contrast to the author’s “Clearly not your normal mystery book.” it is a normal mystery book with a few twists and some “extra features”. It’s not normal in that most “normal” mystery books are treading well worn-out paths which, to a fair extent, BSR succeeds to avoid. The main characters are mostly believable and well-developed and both the 20-years-before story as well as the current storyline and interestingly (and rather subjectively) presented through some of the characters.The contrast between two of the protagonists, namely Rodger and Michael, works well for the book as do the similarities between two other characters (albeit the presentation of those could have been a bit more subtle). For me at least, this was a real page turner in spite of having to…

The Third Day by Mark Graham
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / November 27, 2012

The Third Day by Mark Graham My rating: 2 of 5 stars Unfortunately, this is another book I finished for two reasons only: a) I always finish a book. b) I felt a moral obligation to do so. The problem with “The Third Day” is that it tries to do/show a lot of things in parallel and doesn’t succeed in any. Take two people dissatisfied with their lives; a depressed agnostic widow and a faithful scholar. Their lives basically change over night due to a spectacular discovery; building the story up from this, describing the protagonists before their, let’s say, departure, is where the author succeeds – it’s believable and interesting. *** WARNING *** Spoilers ahead *** WARNING From that point on, though, things spiral down: The widow and the scholar basically exchange their roles and beliefs; while the former turns into a fervent believer, the latter becomes a fanatic closet-opponent. Even if we simply accept this process (which at least in the scholar’s case is not really believable at all), the means this is achieved by are ridiculously annoying – enter a time traveller. A well-known antagonist, disguised as a time-travelling scientist, tempts both our “heroes” and succeeds in…

And They Called Her Spider by Michael Coorlim
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / November 20, 2012

And They Called Her Spider by Michael Coorlim My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is a nice, quick read and serves well as a (very short) introduction to the two protagonists, an engineer and a slightly flippant, well, whatever Bartleby is. Of course, this is a short story at best and I would have wished it to be a bit longer but it’s certainly entertaining even though it felt a bit like fast food – good but it leaves a tad bit to be desired and a slightly guilty pleasure. I might buy a complete anthology of James and Bartleby but certainly not individual stories – there’s just not enough substance to justify that if all stories are as short as this one. View all my reviews

Murder at the Ocean Forest by ROBERT ”DIGGER” CARTWRIGHT
Advance Review Copy (ARC) , Book Review / November 20, 2012

Murder at the Ocean Forest by ROBERT ”DIGGER” CARTWRIGHT My rating: 1 of 5 stars I really hoped to like this book because the author gave me the ebook for free. This was nice, Robert, and thanks for that again. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like this book for quite a few reasons. First of all, it starts extremely slowly – the entire first third mainly consists of annoying quarrelling between stereotyped characters: – The snobby English lord and lady,– the pious preacher,– the American adventurer and his suffering wife. One would expect to get to know them pretty well on more than 100 pages but, alas, they never rise above the cliché and don’t develop at all (which they won’t for the entire remainder of the book). At their destination, they’re joined by an elderly clairvoyant (more esoteric nonsense to follow), the obligatory ghostly figure and the hotel detective. Not only are those characters stereotyped but they immediately jump to all kinds of conclusions: The lord and his lady are quick to judge and as quick in coming to yet another wild idea about life, people and everything. The pious preacher hates them all (and, in a sideline of story…