Book Review : Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights by Eric Tozzi

phoenixThe world of Apocalypse Weird takes yet another twist this time Aliens want in on the apocalyptic action and no better author than Eric Tozzi to introduce them. Set in Phoenix, Arizona this latest addition to the Apocalypse Weird series cranks up the tension from “Edge Of Your Seat” to “You Have No Nails Left” with an alien invasion disaster extravaganza on an epic scale that once again pushes the boundaries of the series. Tozzi’s vivid imagery lends an almost movie-like feel to proceedings while the characters are well-presented and the dialogue is snappy and to the point. The pace is brisk and gives the reader little time to pause for thought, quickly jumping to the next set piece with the odd detour on the way and plenty of surprises in store. Another highly entertaining addition to the world of Apocalypse Weird that makes it’s own mark while still keeping the tone of the series so far.

Once again, production values are top notch on this release with a fantastic cover from M.S. Corley. On promotion all this week at the bargain price of $0.99c /£0.99p

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Book Review: Moonfall by A.G. Wyatt

moonfallMoonfall is an interesting take on the genre, where the moon has disintegrated and fragments fall to earth raining destruction. It deals mostly with the aftermath and follows the fortunes of Noah Brennan, a drifter accompanied only by Bourne (his empty gun) who while wandering the wastelands is captured by a group of militia who mistake him for one of their enemies and imprison him. As he discovers more about his surroundings and the people he is dealing with, he becomes involved in a battle for survival and must make a choice between doing the right thing or what’s best for himself.
Wyatt’s post apocalyptic world is dark and realistic, a harsh, twisted landscape where the weak are preyed upon and the strong fight each other for control of what remains of civilisation. Noah is a complex character struggling with his past who initially appears sullen, selfish and hardened by his experiences, but as we see him interact more with those he comes across he becomes a warmer character with a wicked sense of humour and much more to offer. As the story progresses, the plot gathers pace and culminates in events that test Noah’s resolve and conscience and ultimately lead him to make hard decisions about his future, while occasional glimpses into the past and references to current culture refresh the narrative and build an intriguing but incomplete backstory that hopefully will be built upon in later novels.
Moonfall is one of the better attempts at post apocalyptic fiction I’ve read this year. It’s a well-written, heady mix of action, tension and grim reality that serves as a great primer for the rest of the upcoming series.

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Book Review: Apocalypse Weird: The Serenity Strain by Chris Pourteau

 

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The Apocalypse Weird series continues with a contribution from Shadows Burned In author Chris Pourteau. This time the action takes place in Houston, Texas where a huge weather event brings the city to its knees, pummelled by several hurricanes simultaneously. Throw in a bunch of escaped prisoners enhanced by a backfired experimental drug, and a family falling apart at the seams and the stage is set for a nail-biting thriller of epic proportions.
Once again, Pourteau shows strong signs of an emerging talent as a master of tension, blending elements of science and horror perfectly, at a breakneck pace, building each set piece quickly but accurately and adding just enough well-crafted character development to make us care enough for the main protagonists, fearing for their well-being, and feeling all the more uneasy as the pscyhopathic Serenity Six draw closer, led by the chillingly dangerous Marsten.
Dr. Stavros, who was responsible for creating the Serenity drug and barely survives the escape of the prisoners is a wonderfully ambiguous character throughout, never fully revealing his intentions. We’re never sure if he wants to atone for his mistakes or simply observe the consequences unfold, but it’s clear he still plays an important part in the development of the story.
Oh, and demons, we’ve got demons. Anyone who has read any of the other books in the series knows about The 88 – a band of supernatural ne’er-do-wells gleefully intent on accelerating the oncoming apocalypse and Pourteau introduces his, named Id, who takes a shine to Marsten and the Serenity Six and aims to recruit them for her own ends.
It’s also an interesting and accurate portrayal of the dynamics of a crumbling family and examines ties that even after a break-up are almost impossible to sever. It also takes a hard look at the lengths a person will go to to protect their family in such extreme circumstances.
Having read most of the Apocalypse Weird novels that have been released at this point, I have to say that this was one of my favourites so far and I look forward to the continuation of this story arc.

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My Top 10 Scifi / Horror Books For 2014

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It’s been a busy year! I reckon I’ve gotten through around 35 books this year so it’ll be hard to whittle it down to a top 10. I’ve noticed a lot of the lists about this year are very safe and samey so I’m shaking it up a bit. Also unlike most of the other lists around I’m including self-published titles, of which there have been some outstanding examples this year. Sincere thanks to all the authors and publishers who have supported me this year!

1. Eleanor by Jason Gurley

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I absolutely loved this one. Highly original and thought-provoking. Jason has since bagged a publishing deal with Crown so expect this book to be everywhere next year, albeit in a revised edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Sand by Hugh Howey

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Hugh pulled out all the stops with this tense post-apocalyptic actioner. It’s a riveting read from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. World Of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

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Ben’s iconic detective Henry Palace unravels the final pieces of the puzzle as asteroid Maia hurtles ever closer to earth. He really couldn’t have finished this trilogy any better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

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A huge success this year, this originally self-published scifi thriller features a quick-thinking wisecracking astronaut stranded on Mars. You will never clench your buttocks more. Think of it as Gravity with a little Ferris Bueller thrown in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

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This beautifully designed and innovative take on the haunted house theme transferred to retail was a blast. Think House On Haunted Hill-meets-Ikea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

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This supernatural crime thriller was a gem strengthened by Beukes unique style and unflinching attitude.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Fourth Sage by Stefan Bolz

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My YA pick for this year, this is a no-nonsense dystopian epic which should definitely NOT be split into two movies to bore the pants off the general public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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A thoroughly enjoyable sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, expect to see a lot of this series next year as the Tim Burton movie is released (hopefully not starring Johnny Depp as Miss Peregrine)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells

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A huge hit on Amazon this year, Fluency is a brilliant fusion of classic and modern scifi and paves the way for what should be a very entertaining series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. The Other Of One  (Book One) by Brian G. Burke

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My middle-grade/early teen pick for this year. I’ve been raving about this one for a while but it deserves a shot. An epic fantasy tale with an Irish twist to rival anything else that’s been released in this genre this year with a lot of heart, plenty of action, humour and scares to keep 11-15 year-olds (and many adults!) interested. Looking forward to book two next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)

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Asteroid 2011GV, also known as Maia is on a collision course with Earth.

Probability of impact: 100%

What do you do?

Detective Henry Palace goes to work.

Since the announcement of the impending catastrophe the world is changing rapidly. Lawlessness is on the increase, suicides are at an all-time high. Technology is breaking down and no-one cares enough to fix it anymore. Most large corporations have imploded, money is worthless. Certain foods have become valuable commodities and weapons can be worth a small fortune. Many people have turned to drugs or religion, some have gone ‘bucket list’. Concord, New Hampshire Police Department is running at capacity and our newly promoted hero has stumbled upon a suicide case that just doesn’t add up.
But why should he care? It’s now March and by October Maia will seal the fate of him and anyone else left on the planet. As far as his colleagues are concerned a suicide’s a suicide.

That’s the first thing you do learn about Hank Palace: he does care. He’s a good guy, maybe the last of the good guys in this slick, witty pre-apocalyptic whodunit. The joy of this story is that it’s taking place regardless. The end of the world is secondary, right now all Hank wants is to solve a murder because it’s the right thing to do. It’s his job and you as the reader want to see him do it.

Palace may seem like your archetypal murder mystery detective, and in a lot of ways he is. Shades of Marlowe, Deckard even Holmes echo through his character in this self-narrated tale. He’s hugely pragmatic with a typically deadpan sense of humour, but Winters writes him with heart his emotional side showing mainly in exasperation of those around him, particularly his wild younger sister Nico whose husband has disappeared and whose participation here seems to be related to something much bigger that we’ve yet to see. He’s not perfect by any means. He’s no action hero, he doesn’t always get the girl and Bruce Willis won’t be playing him in the movie (at least I hope not).

As expected the narration has a very noir-ish feel, the grim events taking place in a crumbling world with failing technology means more traditional investigative techniques need to be applied which add to the feel of the experience and give it a more authentic slant falling just short of a jazz soundtrack. There are no gadgets, no huge arsenals and even Palace’s possession of a car is seen as somewhat of a luxury.

The story plays out well. As we learn more about the victim’s background other interesting characters come out of the woodwork, (some briefly but effectively) gently guiding Hank through twists and turns, some throwing him off course, some doing their utmost to stop him in his tracks. But he soldiers on. After every setback, every dead end, every beating (of which there are several – his self-defence skills are pretty awful!) Hank picks himself up, dusts himself off and keeps going and it’s this inertia that mirrors mankind’s struggle in the face of certain annihilation.

It’s hard not to like this book. While many Hollywood stereotypes and cliches could easily have emerged here they didn’t. It’s never over-melodramatic and it relies largely on common sense and a good prediction of how the human condition could develop in the face of such an impossible situation. Armageddon aside, it’s still a damn good mystery novel and a promising start to what should be a very interesting trilogy.

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