Nightmares Abound!

I’ve been a fan of Adrian Chamberlin‘s work since I first read The Caretakers. He’s a helluva writer, and has a sense of humor to match. After reading The Caretakers, I resolved to pay close attention to any anthology in which his work is featured, as well as to his own books.

I stumbled on Dreaming in Darkness awhile ago and had purchased it for my Kindle. Since I finished a run of books for review, I wanted to read something quick for myself. If nothing else, it would be vastly different than the books I had been reading, and I thought it would work as a palate cleanser until the next round of review books arrived.

Dreaming in Darkness was more than I could have ever hoped for, and just may have spoiled me for Mythos literature forever. There are only four stories in the book, which clocks in at  a massive 356 pages. Each story is by a different author, and I tell you no lies when I say that all of them were fantastic. After having finished it, I’d be pressed to select just one as a favorite. They were all so wildly different, yet united in that they were horrifying on a visceral level. These stories are what primitive fears are made of!

Before I go into each story, please note that I am giving vague descriptions of each. They are all wonderfully complex with solid and engaging characters. But I don’t want to deprive the reader of the surprise and terror by spoiling the stories ahead of time. Therefore, please forgive me for the thin descriptions.

THE ORDER – Aaron J. French

In this tale, retired detective Carl Sanford returns to the field at the behest of a friend. His interest in the occult as well as conspiracy theories makes him a particularly important viewpoint on the latest murder case. As Sanford and the others delve deeper into the case, they find that not only are many of the occult theories actually true, but that there is a cult called the Order of Oriphiel that seeks to overturn the world order and bring the Apocalypse.

SHADRACH BESIEGED – Adrian Chamberlin

A centuries-long struggle to keep a horrifying idol out of the wrong hands comes to a terrifying climax at an abandoned monastery during the English Civil War. The majority of the soldiers caught up in the mess think they are fighting their Civil War. Little do they know that Shadrach and his old foe have also come together to wage their own war, and everyone around them will get swept into it. Not to mention having to cross a hellish forest with an agenda of it’s own!

THE SERPENT’S EGG – Jonathan Green

A writer goes and stays in a castle, hoping to find inspiration after his marriage and life crumbled in the aftermath of his first successful novel and the dry period that followed. He’s researching the legend of the Lambton Worm, and thinks himself lucky to find his host is none other than Lord Tristam Lambton himself. However, he stumbles onto a pagan ritual and from there everything goes to hell. He soon finds out that not only is the Lambton Worm no legend, but he now must fight this cult for his life.

NEW HEAVENS – John Prescott

Instead of bringing the Old Ones to us, we are brought to the Old Ones. Literally! Monoliths rise from the sea, people wander into the ocean only to be changed into horrifying creatures, and then one day, the Earth itself is transported somewhere else. Our characters are left to battle against the Old Ones in their own environment, among countless other horrors, as they also struggle to get the Earth back in it’s own universe.

Again, these descriptions are thin compared to the wonderful complexity of each story. The descriptions in all of them are guaranteed to give nightmares – I can attest to this personally, from experience. At first I thought I could pick favorites, but by the end, I was positive that every story is unique and terrifying in it’s own right.

All four authors masterfully blend suspense, thrills, scares, and mystery together. Dreaming in Darkness is an absolutely amazing book, and at $4.00 for Kindle, it’s an absolute steal! If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t despair. You can still read it with the free Amazon Kindle app.

Navigating the Kindle Paperwhite

I was thrilled to receive my Kindle Paperwhite in the mail yesterday. I took it out, synced it with GoodReads.com, and started trying to figure it out. I can say right off the bat that I love it’s sleek new design and touch screen. I’m also in love with the cover that I picked out for it, even though I’m not usually a fan of pastels.

When I bought the Paperwhite, it was supposed to be intuitive. For the most part that’s been true, except for a few features that were harder to figure out than I had hoped (or expected). I consider myself a capable technology user, as I work as a computer professional. However, there were a few instances I went online for answers to questions I couldn’t figure out. I as also dismayed that there wasn’t really a catch-all webpage or help link that answered everything. I searched by several criteria, just to make sure that the problem with the search results wasn’t me. (This also surprised Tkout, because normally I prefer to ask him for technology help, rather than head into the vastness of the Internet.) As you can see from the picture on the left, it’s a very hot item in this house! Both Zelda and Chloe want to get their paws on my Kindle Paperwhite!

Below are some of the features I struggled with, and how to overcome them. If you haven’t purchased the Kindle Paperwhite yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a great investment, even if it takes you a little bit to get used to it.

  • Collections. Managing my collections had my absolutely shouting obscenities, but I’m going to own up to it and say that it’s totally my fault. There are a couple of ways to manage your collections, but so far, I’ve only dealt with books I’ve purchased via Amazon. (There are ways to include books purchased elsewhere, but I haven’t tinkered with that yet.)
    • The Hard Way: You can manually add books to collections by holding your finger down on the title and waiting for the dialog box. However, this can add to mistakes such as opening the book, removing it from the device, and other missteps.
    • The Easy Way: Let Amazon.com do the work for you! Follow these steps:
      • Open amazon.com (or smile.amazon.com, if you’re donating to a charity)
      • On the right, hover over Accounts & Lists, which will open up another menu
      • Under Your Account, go to Manage Your Content and Devices

In this menu, you’ll see all of the books that you’ve purchased, or are shared with you if you share an Amazon account within a household. From there, you can add books to collections in batches of 10, you can delete books, or send them to other registered devices. You can also register and deregister devices on the account. That’s where I deregistered my old Kindle, registered my new Kindle, and changed the device’s name. If you have your kindle open while you’re making the changes, you can see it happen with only a few second delay. (However, to show the new device name, I had to reboot my Kindle. Not a big deal, but just mentioning it.)

  • Backing out of a book. I was able to open books to read them, but I didn’t know how to get back to the home screen. Since I was a dedicated Apple user for years, I automatically looked for the home button. As it turns out, when you’re reading, the menu containing the home button and other options is hidden. If you lightly tap the top of the screen, the menu drops down. You can go to the store, bookmark your place, go home, back out of the book and go to the collection, etc. Neither hard, nor an inconvenience. Once you know what you’re doing. If you decide you don’t want to do anything in the menu, gently tap once anywhere on the book and the menu will close.

I realize that struggling with two features isn’t the end of the world, but they are, in my humble opinion, two of the most important features of the Kindle. Most people like to organize their books, and certainly it’s important to be able to get out of a book and go back to the home screen.

While trying to overcome my obstacles, I stumbled on some features that I really enjoy. Such as the ability to change the font of the book. At first, I thought that was just kitschy and neat. I didn’t realize how much easier it would make the books to read. You can also choose whether or not your progress will be measured in page numbers or as a %. You can also choose to have your GoodReads.com lists display on your home screen.

I can’t say enough about how much I love my Kindle Paperwhite. I can’t believe that it took me so long to catch on to the electronic book craze, but here I am. What format do you prefer? Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader? Let me know in the comments!

Eating Crow

In January 2011, my boyfriend and I were sitting in his room. He handed me a large brown Amazon box. My eyes lit up, thinking that he went onto my Wishlist and ordered me a box full of books. I opened it, and my jaw dropped. Inside was a green, faux leather-clad nemesis. The Kindle Keyboard. I had ranted and ranted and ranted for days about how much I hated the idea of electronic books the first time Tkout had brought the idea up. He posited that I could more easily read books and then review them if I had a Kindle. I swore up and down that I would never abandon “real books”. In fact, I almost broke up with him over it, because I thought that he didn’t understand me. That he was trying to change the core of who I was.

A few months ago, as 2016 slogged to a close, I rediscovered my Kindle. I rearranged the books on it, discovered a host of books I had meant to read, and began to take it to work with me. I became quite attached to it. I loved watching the reading progress at the bottom of the book. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, as did moving the book from the Currently Reading book list to the Charnel House Reviews: Read book list.

The first days of 2017 were largely uneventful. The weekend of our anniversary and my birthday, my now-beloved Kindle died. I was outraged and incredulous. I had barely used it! I went straightaway to Amazon to order another one. (In front of Tkout who couldn’t stop laughing.)

My Kindle Paperwhite arrived Monday. It’s Tuesday, and I’ve barely been able to put it down. I’m voracious when it comes to learning the features, and was delighted when I found out that I could sync it with GoodReads.com, which I have been using more and more. In the picture on the left, you’ll see the bigger, greener Kindle Keyboard. Laying next to it is the sleek, super sexy Kindle Paperwhite. (Not gonna lie, I totally feel badass holding it. Even though the case IS paste…)

I absolutely love my new Kindle, but there is a distinct learning curve, despite Amazon’s promise that it’s intuitive. It is, but only to a point. (If, like me, you’re finding the learning curve to be a bit daunting, I will be posting soon about overcoming the obstacles. Stay tuned!) I am obsessed with the cover, the size, and the screen. It’s far superior to my Kindle Keyboard, even though I will admit that I miss that first Kindle. It was clunky, basic, and a token of my future husband’s love. And as much as I hate admitting it, it’s a symbol to me that he knew me better than I knew myself.

A New Face, A New Terror…

Prepare for the arival of Suzanne Robb, who brings us a new vision of zombie mayhem with her debut novel, “Z-Boat”.  It doesn’t matter whether your buy the  book in Kindle format or traditional paperback, this is a must-read book.  Especially if you’re tired of the tried-and-true formula that the zombie genre has stuck to for so long.  Robb delivers a fast-paced novel full of government and interpersonal intrigue, a submarine too decrepit for it’s deep sea rescue mission, and a host of strange characters that is sure to delight.

It’s difficult to give a basic summary of such an intricate book, but here goes!  The Betty Loo and her crew have been commissioned to go on a rescue mission deeper than they’ve ever gone before.  Along with the usual captain and crew, a few new people are assigned.  A quick check of the personnel files shows that these people are anything but ordinary – and that all is not what it seems.  As (bad) luck would have it, the second they leave the dock and begin the mission, everything goes awry in the worst way imaginable – from mechanical failures and dueling spies to accidental crew deaths.  The worst is yet to come – the sub they are going to rescue is crewed by…zombies.  Unfortunately they aren’t the shambling Romero variety either.  Robb’s zombies retain a little intelligence, and a nightmarish pack mentality.  Do they make it out alive?  Does the plague reach the surface and the unsuspecting world?  Read Z-Boat and find out!

If you haven’t read any books by Suzanne Robb, now would be the time.  She’s a promising up-and-comer who has already published stories in multiple anthologies.  “Z-Boat” is her first published full-length novel, and there is talk of a sequel.  Her greatest strength as a writer is her ability to weave interesting characters into an even more interesting story line.  She began the book with a Prologue detailing the current state of the world, a first chapter with a not-so-desperate S.O.S. call, and then went straight into the characters and story.  The zombies don’t actually appear in full force until the middle of the book, but by then the reader is so deeply immersed in the political intrigue (and, let’s face it, trying to guess who’s going to make it out alive), they the zombies are an added treat, rather than the main focus.

If you happen to enjoy nitpicking books then I should warn you that there were a few grammatical errors along the way, but nothing worth getting in a tizzy over.  They didn’t impact the ability of the reader to enjoy the story.

On a personal note, I found that once I got through the first few pages, I couldn’t put the book down.  It drove me crazy trying to figure out who was going to die, where the zombies came from, and how the crew thought they were going to make it back to the surface in a busted sub.  And just to warn any prospective readers, I actually cried at the ending.  It was really sad, but really fit the book.  I think I’d have been really aggravated if the book had a different ending.

Now, stop reading this and go buy a copy of the book for yourself!  (And your friend!)