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The Menstruating Mall
The Menstruating Mall
by Carlton, III Mellick
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.11
10 used & new from CDN$ 13.11

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre yet uninteresting, Dec 21 2005
This review is from: The Menstruating Mall (Paperback)
Carlton Mellick III is often labeled as an author of 'bizarro' fiction and his book "The Menstruating Mall" certainly is bizarre. The short novel follows a group of stereotypical individuals who one day find themselves unable to leave the mall (which happens to be menstruating) while the rest of the mall patrons are trapped outside unable to enter. The group soon discovers that one of their ensemble is a killer bent on ridding the mall of the "mundane". As the group is picked off one-by-one the stereotypical individuals begin doing outrageous, out-of-character acts trying to convince the unknown killer that they are unique individuals, not mundane stereotypes.
Mellick uses a sort of flow-of-consciousness writing style in "The Menstruating Mall" which is fast-paced and effective for the material. The book moves quickly from fairly "normal" happenings to progressively more strange, gory, and down right weird events.
Unfortunately, though it was a quick read, I didn't enjoy the book that much. By the end I felt like the point of the book had been thoroughly (and with absolutely no subtlety) been beaten into the ground. It was a simple idea drawn out through a series of "ok, what's the next most outrageous thing I can come up with" events that, though they were weird, really weren't that entertaining.
If the goal of the book was to be weird and act as (rather obvious) commentary on stereotypes then I guess it succeeded. Beyond that it really didn't do anything for me.

Follow
Follow
by A Matthews
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A captivating, slow-burn, supernatural mystery/thriller, Dec 19 2005
This review is from: Follow (Mass Market Paperback)
Pam Gardner's life seems to be falling apart. Her husband cheated on her and she lost her baby in a car accident. But that may not be the worst part: she seems to be going insane. Pam is hearing things, seeing shapes in dark shadows, and receiving visits from several women (including her best friend Lily) who may have met bad ends, and she thinks someone is trying to kill her. Is it all in her mind? And why do the voices keep telling her to "open the door"?
I can say one thing about A.J. Matthews (pseudonym of Rick Hautala) after reading "Follow": this guy knows how to build tension. From the very first page the suspense is building, the mystery is getting thicker, and the confusion deeper. You can cut the tension in "Follow" with a knife. Pam Gardner is in a frightened, confused state of mind through most of the book and Matthews puts us right there in the seat with her for every moment. This is an extremely well written book. I can't remember reading any supernatural mystery-thrillers more engrossing than "Follow".
My only gripe is the ending. Without giving away too much (this is a mystery after all), Matthews leaves a lot of unanswered questions at the end of "Follow". Don't misunderstand, it's obvious Matthews did this on purpose and his ending makes good sense, but it left me feeling a little unfulfilled. What's the fun in building a great mystery and not having it wrapped up nicely in the end?
This book is a great, slow burn mystery. The general idea driving "Follow" isn't new but, with a few curveballs thrown in and captivating storytelling, Matthews has pulled off a must-read supernatural thriller.

Deadlands
Deadlands
by Scott A. Johnson
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great apocalyptic zombie tale with a new twist, Dec 8 2005
This review is from: Deadlands (Paperback)
It's becoming harder and harder to offer up something new in the zombie genre, it's pretty much all been done. But, Scott A. Johnson has taken a successful stab at it in his new novel "Deadlands".
"Deadlands" follows brother and sister Christian and Cadence through post-apocalyptic nightmare world. In this dark combination of science fiction and horror the entire world is scorched and ruined. What little civilization is left lives in somewhat primitive underground bunkers hiding from flesh scorching daylight, poisoned air, and most importantly, the living dead. The zombies, referred to as "rotters" in the book, are a product of a last ditch effort by warring factions to build an unstoppable army during the worldwide conflict that turned the earth into "deadland". Of course, this plan backfired miserably. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, a new, mysterious threat has arisen that is destroying the underground cities and wiping out all their inhabitants threatening to put an end to humanity once and for all.
Zombie and post-apocalyptic fans will find a lot to enjoy about this book. While a lot of ideas aren't particularly new Johnson works hard to put a fresh spin on things. The book is fast paced, action-packed, and well written. Johnson throws in a new--at least to me--twist on the zombie but, I won't give it away as it's one of the books major plot points (and a good one at that). My only complaints are that the "emotional" scenes in the book are standard and clichéd and that the book is relatively short. If you're looking for your next apocalyptic and/or zombie adventure you won't be disappointed with "Deadlands".

The Poker Club
The Poker Club
9 used & new from CDN$ 17.78

2.0 out of 5 stars A ho-hum revenge thriller, Dec 8 2005
Ed Gorman is a fairly well-known author in the horror and crime fields but "The Poker Club" was my introduction to his writing. Depending on your slant you could call "The Poker Club" a crime novel or thriller (possibly even horror though there's nothing supernatural). Unfortunately I'm left calling it unfulfilling.
The plot of "The Poker Club" (which is an expansion of an earlier novella) isn't breaking any new ground in the crime/thriller genre: a group of friends accidentally kill a burglar who breaks into the lead (Aaron's) home during a meeting of their poker club. The rest of the novel follows the friends as they deal with the vengeful partner of the dead burglar and the police investigation. This is, of course, intended to be thrilling and suspenseful but instead is only mildly interesting. Most of the "thrilling" events are rehashes of typical stalking/revenge tales, the characters are two-dimensional stereotypes, and the conclusion is a cop-out.
Though I'll most likely give Gorman another shot based on his notoriety, I'd recommend "The Poker Club" to only the most desperate crime/thriller fan.

Collection
Collection
by Bentley Little
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars THE COLLECTION is weird but wonderful, Dec 6 2005
This review is from: Collection (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read several novels by Bentley Little and they're weird (in a good way). Little has a talent for taking far-out ideas that, in some author's hands, would come across as stupid and deliver them as engrossing, terrifying tales. "The Collection", which brings together 32 of Little's short stories, showed me that his novels barely scratch the surface of outrageously strange ideas this man's got running around in his head.
Tales in "The Collection" are all terrify but many of them are also darkly humorous and satirical. Little delves into revisionist history with "The Washingtonians" and "Colony". He takes cultish celebrity worship to the extreme in "The Idol". He tackles tough issues like bloodthirsty macaroni in "Blood" and an aroused pillow in "Pillow Talk" (yes, seriously).
This is a deranged collection of tales but Little manages, somehow, to keep the outrageous grounded enough to genuinely creep the reader out. There wasn't a tale in the bunch that I didn't enjoy. While I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of heart, if you've enjoyed any of Little's other work or you're just looking for something deranged and scary pick up "The Collection".
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The Manhattan Hunt Club
The Manhattan Hunt Club
by John Saul
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
86 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars It should be thrilling but it's not..., Dec 5 2005
In "The Manhattan Hunt Club" John Saul takes a premise that has been done a few times (people hunting people) and moves it to a new location. Jeff converse has been falsely accused of murder and, after his death has been faked, becomes the prey for human hunters in the maze of subway tunnels and sewer system beneath the city of Manhattan.
Unfortunately, a good premise does not a good book make. Saul never manages to pull "The Manhattan Hunt Club" above mediocrity. His characters aren't particularly interesting and, for such an exciting concept, the novel moves at a snails pace. These problems are rounded off with suspension-of-belief breaking coincidences. Somehow Saul has managed to fail to deliver intensity from a premise that almost exudes it naturally.
"The Manhattan Hunt Club" has made for TV movie written all over it. This is at best an average offering from a well-known author.
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Peaceable Kingdom
Peaceable Kingdom
by Jack Ketchum
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful shorts from one of the best, Dec 1 2005
Jack Ketchum is an author who, it seems, may be destined to be one of the greats that went largely unrecognized. While he's often cited by other authors and the hardcore horror readers as one of the best I think it's a safe bet to say the average reader has never heard of him. The collection "Peaceable Kingdom" brings together 32 of Ketchum's short tales including a couple of Bram Stoker award-winners and an introduction and afterword by Ketchum himself.
The tales in "Peaceable Kingdom" run the gamut from supernatural horror and thriller to the just plain weird. The one consistent factor among the stories is Ketchum's stellar writing. Regardless of how plain or outrageous the tale is, Ketchum's crisp descriptions and well-realized characters bring an atmosphere to his writing that few authors are able to achieve. I won't be surprised to find Ketchum someday being required reading in high school as his writing deserves to be right up there with the classical masters.
This is a collection that, once you've started reading you'll find it quite literally hard to put down. Other than a few tales which don't shine quite as brightly as the rest (but still outdo most other author's work), "Peaceable Kingdom" is a collection of tiny masterpieces.
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Scarecrow
Scarecrow
by Matthew Reilly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
82 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Reilly tries too hard to outdo himself, Nov. 30 2005
This review is from: Scarecrow (Mass Market Paperback)
I've seen Matthew Reilly's works shoe-horned into the "political thriller" category and I've got to tell you: that is flat out wrong. If Reilly's books were movies they would be the late '80s and early '90s all-out action fests staring Schwarzenegger or Stallone. And there's nothing wrong with that as the entertainment value in those types of works is high when they're done right. Unfortunately, with "Scarecrow" Reilly has fallen into the trap that has snared so many action movie follow-ups: trying too hard to outdo himself.
"Scarecrow" stars Reilly's recurring character Marine Shane Schofield. Schofield finds himself the target--along with 14 other members of the world's most elite military units--of a multi-million dollar bounty hunt. The sponsors of the hunt, a group of Illuminati-like billionaires who pull the puppet-strings of the world, have a secret and, of course, world altering plans that requires the eliminations of these highly dangerous individuals.
Just as with Reilly's other works, "Scarecrow" features over the top action and daring escapes. Most readers would expect this with the way the book is billed. The problem is that this time around Reilly's work comes off as if he is purely trying to outdo himself. The book as a whole feels like he's pushing to out-shoot, out-explode, out-drive, out-kill, and out-surprise his previous works. Not only that, but each scene within the book must be even more over-the-top than the last. This permeates "Scarecrow" so severely that scenes within the book often feel totally contrived and, in some situations, the outcome becomes obvious because they are constructed so specifically for a big payoff. The book becomes driven by getting to the next biggest, baddest action scene rather than being driven by an interesting plot that includes action scenes.
My recommendation if you're looking for a mindless, fun, action filled book is to head for one of Matthew Reilly's older works.
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Aftermath of the Dead
Aftermath of the Dead
by Gregory Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.15
13 used & new from CDN$ 5.17

1.0 out of 5 stars The worst book I have ever attempted to read!, Nov. 29 2005
This review is from: Aftermath of the Dead (Paperback)
First, let me say I have nothing against self-published books. In fact, I've read many, liked several, and even loved a few. Unfortunately, Gregory Smith's self-published stab at the zombie genre titled "Aftermath of the Dead" is not one I like.
I loathe writing a review of a book that I didn't finish, but I couldn't bring myself to slog through "Aftermath". Plot-wise the book sounds like traditional zombie fare focused on the city of the Arch: St. Louis. I'm unable to share much in the way of plot specifics because this book is so horribly written I was unable to complete it. I'm no grammar/punctuation stickler or expert by any means. I understand the extra errors that don't get weeded out of self-published books-not a big deal to me. But, the grammar and punctuation in "Aftermath" is so atrocious, so grating on the eyeballs that I could not bear to read more than a few chapters. It is literally a chore to even decipher what Gregory Smith is trying convey most of the time.
"Aftermath of the Dead" is destined to become one of those books that pops up over and over again as anecdotal evidence against self-publishing. If you're looking for your zombie fix avoid this one and take a chance on one of the many other traditional or self-published zombie novels.
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Harvest
Harvest
by Scott Nicholson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars An average B-movie in book form, Nov. 29 2005
This review is from: Harvest (Mass Market Paperback)
I really wanted to like Scott Nicholson's "The Harvest" more than I did. The premise reads like a cross between "Night of the Living Dead" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers": ancient alien seed crash lands on Earth, alien seed attempts to devour/assimilate Earth's creatures (resulting in humans becoming zombie-like creatures), and a small band of heroes collect to save the day. Unfortunately this great premise may have raised my expectations a little too much.
Without a doubt, this is a full-on B-horror idea which, if you're even considering reading this book, is probably fine with you. Unfortunately, Nicholson got stuck somewhere between a fun B-horror novel and a character driven novel. Nicholson spends the first several hundred pages introducing character after character. I'm sure the purpose was to make us feel like we knew the characters but, for the most part, they were un-engaging and, in the end, unimportant to the story. It felt like a writer TRYING to make the characters come to life rather than actually doing so. The best part of the novel--brutal action and horrific twists--doesn't really kick in until the last 75-100 pages. I feel this story probably would have been better served in novella form.
If the premise intrigues you and you're able to go into it expecting nothing more than an average B-movie in book form you shouldn't be too disappointed. Otherwise you might want to pass this one up.
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