A Night at the Dream Theater by Mark Taylor

A Night at the Dream Theater by Mark Taylor

A Night at the Dream Theater by Mark Taylor

ASIN: B06VSBR1CS

ISBN-10: 1943755183

ISBN-13: 978-1943755189

Publisher: Eleventh Hour Literary Press, 2017

 

Mark Taylor transports the reader to a whole new world…of our possible future. He builds the scene and culture from top to bottom, shoves the reader in, and then shakes them senseless with a mind-bending experience.

 

Damien is addicted to what Total Entertainment offers, but his wife doesn’t like it. He doesn’t listen to her concerns and keeps giving in to the desires only Total Entertainment, with its simulated experiences, can fulfill.

Leander is a man who finds himself without employ. In the futuristic society he lives in this means he’s without a home, food, money, or any kind of social status. In less than a day he becomes human trash with a single box of random items from his life. No one will help him, not even his family.

With the few possessions Leander has, he is able to barter a place to sleep for a few nights, while he seeks new employ. During this time, he meets and makes friends with a man named Charles (a.k.a. Chimp).

Chimp tells Leander that Total Entertainment is hiring, if he can’t find employ elsewhere, and heads off to procure a job there.

After Leander exhausts his last option – an ex-girlfriend who lives on the fringes of society – he follows up on the tip from Chimp.

Leander gets a job at Total Entertainment, in the Consternation department. His odd and surreal dreams are harvested for people like Damien to enjoy as entertainment. But with his new job comes complications more powerful than he could have ever imagined.

Together Leander and Chimp try to survive the crazy culture and lifestyle Total Entertainment provides…since their contracts with the company are absolute.

 

Mark Taylor is one of my favorite Indie authors. He has the ability to write creative works that make you think deeper about yourself and the world around you. So, in a way, I’m crying inside a little as I write this review, since there are some negative things about this title I have to consider and that affect my rating.

I’ll start with the things I like about the book… The world the author creates is clear. It’s set in a future world with new technology and a more controlled culture. The language used to achieve this was clear as far as portraying the environment and the consequences of social nonconformity.

Secondly, the main character, Leander, is being robbed of his dreams and his sleep by his job. At points in the book, I thought there were missing scene breaks to clearly mark when the character was in reality and when the character was in one of his “awakenings.” But, the more I read, the more I realized it was brilliantly designed to blur dream and reality, because the character himself, as his mind broke, didn’t know if he was in a dream or in reality. This odd and interesting format allowed me, as the reader, to take the confusing journey of the character’s broken psyche on a personal level. The confusion and frustration was creatively translated.

Now, for the downfalls of the book… There were many, many missing, extra, and wrong words in the book. The editing was horrible! So horrible, that I will never read anything from the publisher again. And I’m blaming the publisher and their editing because I’ve read many of Mark Taylor’s other works (some self-published) and they all had better editing and quality than what was presented in this book.

Also, the Damien storyline wasn’t completed. It just stops in the late middle of the book with no conclusion. The reader never finds out what happens between Damien and his wife or why she disliked him going to Total Entertainment. It’s hinted that the experiences change him, but there’s never an explanation. This makes me feel the character and his bit of story could have been left out altogether; it brought no value or meaning to the pages.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS.

2Q

Muti Nation by Monique Snyman

muti-nation-cover

Muti Nation by Monique Snyman

Muti Nation by Monique Snyman

ASIN: B01H63QO1W

ISBN-10: 0692741674

ISBN-13: 978-0692741672

Publisher: Omnium Gatherum Media, 2016

 

Monique Snyman takes her readers on a bloody ride through the horrors of muti and dark magic in South Africa. She shines a bright light on the brutality some will inflict…just to have power.

 

Esmé Snyders is an occult-crime investigator. She is called in to examine scenes brutality painted on the world using the blood of innocents.

She knows someone is inflicting pain and mutilating the bodies of their victims for power, but she doesn’t understand the scope of what she’s up against. She doesn’t understand that she has been targeted by the man who is using muti to become a god on Earth.

Esmé is attacked by unseen…things in her own home, but she doesn’t let that scare her away from hunting down the truth.

Her love life gets in the way of her handling things, but it doesn’t stop her from finding the answers she’s looking for.

 

Monique Snyman knows how to get her hands bloody, and she has no qualms finger painting her readers’ brains with her dark visions. She pulls no punches, and I love and respect her for that. After all, that’s what the horror genre is all about.

Muti Nation was a fun read, and I enjoyed it, but there were a couple things that bugged me. The main character, Esmé was referred to as an “expert” multiple times, but I didn’t feel she did any real “experting” in the book. She seems somewhat knowledgeable and capable, but that’s about all.

There were sections of the book that were nothing but news reports with social media comments and victim interviews. I personally didn’t care for them, since they weren’t directly connected to the actual story as far as something the characters were doing. The characters didn’t sit down and read the reports or anything. So, for me, it was jarring. But, if you’re going to do something like that in a book, it was done well. I consider this a personal preference issue, since others might not mind it at all.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS.

2Q

The Klinik by Eric Dimbleby

The Klinik by Eric Dimbleby

The Klinik by Eric Dimbleby

 

The Klink by Eric Dimbleby

ASIN: B00AH85TLA

ISBN-10: 1615728112

ISBN-13: 978-1615728114

Publisher: Damnation Books, LLC

 

Eric Dimbleby’s healthcare system will take you well beyond co-pays and medical insurance; it defies the very idea that medical establishments and professionals are there to help and heal.

 

When Ken has an accident playing sports with his friends, he has to limp home to his pregnant wife. She takes him to a new health clinic in the area that is odd.

After treatment is not viable because of faulty machinery, they flee and go to the local hospital.

A short while later, the bills from the strange new clinic start to arrive…and then the harassment begins.

No matter how they fight the inflated charges they’re being billed for, Ken and his wife get sucked deeper and deeper into the horror and unconventional operations of The Klinik.

 

I always enjoy the dark and horrific tales Eric Dimbleby spins. This one didn’t disappoint. We all hate the healthcare system for one reason or another, but it will never be as bad as the system portrayed in this book. The book is complex, disturbing, and makes you scared to go get treatment.

There are a few editing issues, but nothing super horrible.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

2Q

Monstrosities by Jeremy C. Shipp

Monstrosities by Jeremy C. Shipp

Monstrosities by Jeremy C. Shipp

Monstrosities by Jeremy C. Shipp

ASIN: B00EQESHAQ

Publisher: Attic Clown Press

 

Jeremy C. Shipp takes readers on a dark adventure in his playfully twisted imagination.

 

Monstrosities is a short story collection of ten stories: Figs, The Tunnel, Almost Paradise, Worms, The Little Glass Soul, Clown Hands, Cold, Flesh and Blood, Buried, and Googly.

Figs: A man is haunted by someone from his past.

The Tunnel: A man goes on a “trippy” voyage through a tunnel.

Almost Paradise: Halloween means different things to different people. To some, it’s the freedom to let their darkness out.

Worms: Sometimes, no matter how comfortable someone tries to make one feel, it’s not as good as the real thing.

The Little Glass Soul: Fairytales are usually a happily-ever-after affair, but not this time.

Clown Hands: A man’s body turns against him with other personalities and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Cold: An intense re-enactment turns into revenge.

Flesh and Blood: Sometimes flesh and blood are the price you have to pay for something you want.

Buried: A misguided man tries to rid the world of those he believes are soiling humanity with their existence.

Googly: A young man goes through his parents’ right of passage to survive.

 

This is the first I’ve sampled Jeremy C. Shipp’s writing; he is insanely imaginative, literally! The stories in this collect are bizarre and unique – I don’t you’ll find anything like them somewhere else. The collection is well written. The only thing I didn’t really care for was that some of the endings were a bit too vague.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

2Q

White Out by Eric Dimbleby

White Out by Eric Dimbleby

White Out by Eric Dimbleby

White Out by Eric Dimbleby

ASIN: B00LGFX028

ISBN-10: 1925047938

ISBN-13: 978-1925047936

Publisher: Severed Press

 

Eric Dimbleby enjoys twisting a sick web of horror for his readers that stays with them long after they read his tales.

 

The world is coming to a slow, frozen end. Few people are left alive to deal with it and the other survivors – the ones who don’t want to get along and play nice.

Violence and death fall upon those who aren’t prepared to do what’s necessary. Some are forced to…

A woman is trapped at work and wants to get home to her husband and son, but she can’t. Not without the help of a man who would rather keep her all to himself.

They manage to make it a few miles in the snow, only to be attacked.

She has to find the darkness inside herself to survive if she ever wants to see her son again.

Meanwhile…a man who has vile intentions takes up residency in her home, with her family.

Will anything be left if she does manage to make it home alive?

 

This book shows the twisted darkness that lives inside those we don’t want to think about – the bad people who are evil for no reason, or just for the pleasure of hurting others. In that way, it’s excellent. I would have liked to see more strength in the seemly bipolar, weak-willed female that is the center of this tale; it would have gone a long way in making her more interesting overall. There are many, many grammar issues with this title, but it’s still worth the read.

I give this book: 2Q

2Q

Poisoned Web by Crista McHugh

Poisoned Web by Crista McHugh

Poisoned Web by Crista McHugh

Poisoned Web (Diezian Empire Book 2) by Crista McHugh

ASIN: B00GKZNFZ6

ISBN-10: 1940559995

ISBN-13: 978-1940559995

Publisher: Crista McHugh

 

Crista McHugh rockets readers into her created world with style and grace.

 

A slave assists the investigator who is helping her mistress uncover the secrets of poison and murder. They dig deep into the past and a forbidden culture that holds not only the answers, but countless dangers for many.

Their investigation turns up way more than they planned on, but will they find the answers in time to save the life of their current emperor?

 

This book was interesting and the characters were relatable. I could tell where the story was going, but I still enjoyed the journey. There was plenty of conflict to build tension and a satisfying resolution. There were some grammar mistakes, but nothing overly major that took away from the story.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

2Q

Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan

Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan

Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan

ASIN: B004UH7Z7U

Publisher: Dare To Dream Press

 

Elsbeth loses everything she has ever held dear when her home falls to the enemy in a war. She finds herself at the mercy of men she despises. Her freedom is lost.

While in captivity, she sees the powerlessness of herself and her people in graphic and disgustingly brutal detail.

Over time, she accepts her fate and falls in love with the king that holds her as his personal property and prisoner. But things never go as planned, and when a strange man comes to the castle while the king is away and takes an unwelcome liking to her, it leads her to do things that result in her suffering more abuse at the hands of cruel men.

Will she ever find freedom and happiness again? In a world where a woman is nothing more than property of men?

 

I struggled to decide if the main character was stupid or just so damn spirited she wanted to make life harder on herself. I found some of her self-made conflict over the top (but she was a redhead…). I also found that no matter where she turned she was being used sexually or flat out raped the entire book. I know that at the time period women were used with no thought as to their comfort or desire, but shouldn’t there have at least been a couple decent men around? The king was about halfway decent, but that was the closest any man in the title was to having a heart.

Despite all of that, the time period was believable, as were a majority of the characters. I did like the book, and although there were some grammar mistakes, they were few and far between.

 

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

2Q

Dying Days: Double Set 1 by Armand Rosamilia

Dying Days: Double Set 1 by Armand Rosamilia

Dying Days: Double Set 1 by Armand Rosamilia

ASIN: B00IXOPVBS

Publisher: Rymfire Books

 

Dying Days: Origins

Tosha finds herself alone in the world ravished by the zombie apocalypse when her twin sister is attacked, bitten, and put down by a neighbor. She joins forces with the neighbor, but things don’t go as planned.

Her depression makes her survival hard. She eventually ventures out and comes in contact with other living people…but they aren’t friendly.

Will she survive it all and be able to move on?

(There are a couple of short stories following other characters at the end of the book.)

 

I enjoyed the characterization in Dying Days: Origins, which I think is Author Armand Rosamilia’s strongest asset. However, I was disappointed with some grammar and inconsistencies in the story. For example: Tosha was outside in the cold, wearing multiple layers of clothes and then, just a short time later when she comes inside, is doing a strip tease with only one pair of jeans on.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

2Q

 

Still Dying: Select Scenes from Dying Days

This is a collection of stories that follow various characters from other Dying Days titles as they enter the zombie apocalypse: Jeff Beesler; Russ “Madman” Meyer; David Monsour; Michael Ross; Steve “The Breeze” Brack; Noah Stern; M.J. O’Neill; Brenda Ellis; Morris Chambers; Tosha Shorb; The Conner Family; and Armand Rosamilia.

 

Still Dying: Select Scenes from Dying Days is a collection of backstories of various characters in the Dying Days series. They are well written, entertaining, and interesting. Grammar mistakes are few and far between.

I give this book: 3 QUILLS

3Q

Because of the shortcomings of the first title in the set, I give this book an overall rating of 2 QUILLS.

2Q

Dead Men Tell No Tales by Jeffrey Kosh

Dead Men Tell No Tales by Jeffrey Kosh

Dead Men Tell No Tales by Jeffrey Kosh

ASIN: B007PLST5U
An old man imparts a tale to a young sailor; it’s a tale of his past where the “Risen” roamed the seas freely. A “Mambo” (voodoo priestess) has the answer to the problem and is ready to sacrifice herself to save others.

Things don’t go exactly as planned, and although the Risen are taken care of, other issues arise.

 

This is an interesting and delightful pirate tale with dark elements, and I enjoyed it! I would definitely read more from Mr. Kosh.

Unfortunately there were some inconsistencies in accented dialogue, some grammar, and ebook formatting that I couldn’t overlook in my rating.

 

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

 

2Q

The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse by Gregory L. Norris

Fierce Muse Cover

The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse by Gregory L. Norris

The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse by Gregory L. Norris

ASIN: B007IISM0W

ISBN-10: 0615614132

ISBN-13: 978-0615614137

Publisher: Evil Jester Press

 

Gregory L. Norris takes the reader on a twisted journey through his dark imagination. He shows them things that lurk in the deepest, more horrifying parts of his mind…where few would dare go.

The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse is a collection of 26 novellas and short stories.

Story One: Storage – When a man is forced by his life circumstances to store his possessions in a unit for a while, until he finds a new place to live, he’s discouraged when he finally retrieves them. Some of them are severely damaged…and smell. He finds out the hard way what’s been lurking in the boxes, waiting to devour what it wants.

Story Two: Dust to Dust – When the dead rise up and attack the living in ancient Egypt, they’re confused at the cause. They battle to survive, while they struggle with their beliefs and political ties.

Story Three: Nightmare Near Highway 101 – Madison struggles with nightmares of what his father did to him when he was young, while trying to survive as a college dropout. He gets into some trouble, and his brother comes to the rescue. Madison has to go home, and he’s not looking forward to it. He finds out his father is dead, and that helps with his inward struggle. But, when he and his brother are kidnapped on their way home, things go from deadly to confusing.

Story Four: The Enclave – A young boy lives in a secluded, mysterious neighborhood. Those who live around him keep disappearing…and he knows it has something to do with the strange beings in the woods and the UFOs. Life goes on and on for him and he finds out that he’s special, and that’s why he remains, alone.

Story Five: Norman – A notorious violent gangster has a special friend…one that haunts him from the corner of his eye and frightens him. He makes a friend that explains where his scary companion comes from – it’s an ancient entity that has attached itself to him because of his evil deeds. There’s no way for him to shake the creature. He is powerless and a slave to its will.

Story Six: The Dead Car Smell – Ray starts a new job as a used car salesman. He hopes that the commissions he makes will mean good things for him and his son, who are struggling to get by. The dealership has a secret that Ray can’t let go – he has to find out what’s going on beyond the rusted fence that surrounds a small lot out back. But, his curiosity is his undoing. He finds out what he wants to know, but it doesn’t bode well for the future he was hoping for.

Story Seven: Grand Theater – A couple (an author and a stage designer) escape from the big city to a quiet estate in the country when their health suffers from stress. They’re happy with their new lives, but someone from the past comes to visit, wanting the stage designer to come back and do another job…and they won’t take no for an answer. Through deception and greed, the couple is torn apart by the plot set in place to lure them back to their old lives.

Story Eight: The Evil One – A young man moves in next door to a family with two girls and a father. The father knows the young man is evil – he can tell. However his oldest daughter hooks up with him, and no matter what the father does, he can’t make her see reason or seem to scare off the young man. He ends up losing his daughter in a wreck and he blames the young man who was driving. Everyone thinks he’s crazy. The young man turns his attention to the younger daughter and the father fights tooth and nail in an effort to save her.

Story Nine: Unreal Estate – A man is approached by a woman who has an outlandish story to tell him. She wants to enlist his help. In another dimension, things are happening to enslave their current reality. He doesn’t believe her at first, but then he sees the signs. He has to choose whether he wants to be a slave or if he’ll be willing to risk his life to help save everyone else.

Story Ten: The Menagerie – A man’s father dies. The father always had a lot of different…hobbies. What the son finds out about his father and some of his hobbies and past exploits shocks him.

Story Eleven: Jumping Beans – A man is having issues with his teeth rotting away – his mouth is a bloody cesspool. In a fit of rage, he heads to his childhood dentist office to confront the dentist who put filling in his teeth years before. He finds the dentist’s son now runs the practice. But, once he’s in the chair, he finds out the truths of the past and the present.

Story Twelve: Hollyhocks in the Vacant Lot – A young boy who lives with his grandmother is lured into an old vacant lot by large, beautiful flowers. He plans to pick some for her. Once there, he finds himself face to face with an ancient evil… The nightmare begins.

Story Thirteen: The Pandemned – The world is devastated by a plague that wipes out most of the population. Those who survive have a hard time not starving. Finally, they manage to have some semblance of civilization, but it’s still…strained. There is a murder outside the city, where a land owner has farm plots and pays little to his workers. When the police go to investigate, they’re hindered. One officer knows who the killer is, and she risks her life and safety to find him in no-man’s-land.

Story Fourteen: The Cycle – A woman seeks an apartment after a break up half the country away. She finds herself at an old house that had been renovated into apartments. They don’t want to rent to her because she’s a single woman. She convinces them to. Soon, she finds out why they didn’t want to rent to her, and she fears she might have made a mistake. From an elderly woman who had once lived in the apartment, she finds out about it’s horrible past and tries to take control.

Story Fifteen: The Tora Bora Horror – During a mission in Afghanistan a military exploration uncovers an ancient evil that has been unleashed from the depths of the Earth through bombing.

Story Sixteen: Grinn – A romance author is hounded by “haters.” One of them sends her a Christmas present of a doll. She throws it away and tries to figure out which one of her nonfans sent it. The present doesn’t stay in the trash, but rises up and tries to kill her in her remote home, during a snow storm.

Story Seventeen: Cry in the Night – A convoy of soldiers in lost. They move forward to attempt to find their target location for their mission. During their travels, they come across some of their enemies and strange prisoners in the woods. They take them all down and continue on with many questions. They come across a prison camp and find out more than they wanted to know…but not in time.

Story Eighteen: The Laying-On of Hands – A young pregnant woman is freaked out by older women who keep coming up to her and putting their hands on her bulging belly. It happens multiple times and she thinks she’s going into labor after more than one incident.

Story Nineteen: The Ape God – Trapped in a country in the grips of a civil war, a researcher tries to save the gorillas he knows to be in danger from both sides of the battle. He and his associates travel higher and higher into the mountains while being hunted. They find an oasis unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

Story Twenty: Alms for the Dead – A girl who lives in the shadow of a castle fears what used to live there. When the family that dwelled in the castle returns suddenly, her world is turned upside down. She remembers the disappearance of her sister, and is curious as to what the new arrivals mean. She finds out in the woods where she’s forbidden to go.

Story Twenty-One: The Green Dream – An artist is stuck in a beige world with his girlfriend; she’s carrying his child and they have little money. An artist friend of his teaches him how to expand his mind and travel to a world of color and light, but it becomes too dangerous for him to go there any longer after a betrayal.

Story Twenty-Two: Jason and the Zombonauts – A gang of thugs are attacked by a rival gang on their home turf. Something is wrong with the – all they want to do is bite. After they’re bitten, they become…different. But that doesn’t stop them from traveling across town to exact revenge.

Story Twenty-Three: Satyre – A chef notices that food is going missing from his kitchen overnight, while his restaurant is closed. He makes plans and sneaks back in after hours to discover the culprit. They are nothing near what he expected.

Story Twenty-Four: Clowniwowns – A single mother and single father meet at a child’s birthday party and fall in love. He tells her of his past, that he used to have a twin. When her curiosity gets the best of her, she strays into the attic of his house, where he told her she shouldn’t go. What she finds there unnerves her.

Story Twenty-Five: Veneer – A man away on business starts to doubt his reality, and makes a snap decision.

Story Twenty-Six: Brood Swamp – A woman is murdered in her home and a special investigator is called in to help find out who did it. They suspect the husband, because he was not a gentle man with his wife, but they find out they were wrong and there is more evil at work than they knew.

 

Each and every story in this collection is different and creative. Even if I didn’t love every story, I still enjoyed reading them all for their creativity and diversity. I didn’t like some of the endings, because they were too wide open, but that’s a personal preference, I think. There are mistakes with punctuation, spelling, and extra/missing words throughout, but there aren’t enough to ruin the book for anyone.

Note: This book has a mixture of sexual orientations in the characters.

I give this book: 2 QUILLS

2Q