Thursday, 31 May 2012

My Pet Zombie



Wesley Barber

I was going on a short journey and I wanted something short and sweet to tide me over and I fancied a Zombie story. This was short, tongue-in-cheek, very British but really not bad at all. I don't know what I was expecting, but nothing good that's for sure.

It had a simple process: teenager Luke has a pet zombie kept in a rabbit hutch in his wardrobe, and he creeps out at night killing animals so he can take them back to feed his pet. 

The short isn't for the squeamish or animal lovers, so if offended by cats being stabbed in the neck by a screwdriver don't download!

My Pet Zombie is well written, and it has all the acquired bits: beginning, middle and an end - and what an end! It's a story with a twist, so it wouldn't be fair if I revealed it here.

I "bought" it because it was free, but I wouldn't pay almost £2 for a short-story, so my only criticism on this is that for a short story it's much too expensive.

A feral blast-beat of a short story, in which a teenager struggles to balance the pressures of having a girlfriend, dealing with over-anxious parents, getting schoolwork done on time and the additional burden of keeping a ravenous undead creature of the night in his closet.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Tell a Thousand Lies

Rasana Atreya

Three sisters, Pullamma, Lata and Malli have been brought up by their grandmother. The grandmother wants to find them a husband, but only two of the girls are "pretty". Pullamma is too dark to be considered attractive in 1980 India.

That’s the theme in essence. We don’t have anything to do with Malli (although her wedding brings us Kondal Rao and he’s is going to be Pullamma’s nightmare), Malli is married off from the start and we only begin to get to know Lata towards the end of the book. It’s Pullamma’s story and her that we life we get to know, but she’s a girl very much of her time and heritage. All she wants is a husband and a family. Unlike her twin, Lata, she isn’t interested in education.

In the beginning I did wonder if the book had too much "info dump" because there was a lot telling about how people from that culture lived, but before I realised I was hooked on Pullamma's story and found myself keen to finish. There were a few flashbacks that became a jumble at times, and I did wonder if the story was too "big" for the author, but overall I think Rasana Atreya did a very good job indeed. It was easy reading, and opened my eyes to how "free" Western culture is and how much it's taken for granted.

Pullamma, as a character, was delightful, although I found her too naive at times, especially as she openly trusted people even when, one after the other, they took advantage of her. Her husband was a character I couldn't warm to at all! I hoped Pullamma would dump him by the end of the story for being such a wuss and a pushover, but no, she "loved him".

Tell a Thousand Lies is a story I’m going to remember (for all the right reasons), I do think there was a lot packed into it, maybe too much? It wasn’t so much as a roller coaster read, but a long, fast straight ride until you arrive with a bump the end. There was no break, no respite from the misery dumped on poor Pullamma, or if there was, it was in very short supply of a line or two of prose. I was quite out of breath towards the end!

In short it is a powerful book, and very much worth a read.

In a land where skin colour can determine one's destiny, fraternal twins PULLAMMA and LATA are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart. Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. 

With three girls in her family, the sixteen year old is aware there isn't enough dowry to secure suitable husbands for them all. But a girl can hope. She's well versed in cooking, pickle making, cow washing -- you name it. She's also obliged her old-fashioned grandmother by not doing well in school. Fair skinned and pretty, her twin sister Lata would rather study medicine than get married. 

Unable to grasp the depth of Lata's desire, the twins' Grandmother formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Distraught, Lata rebels, with devastating consequences. As Pullamma helps ready the house for her older sister Malli's bride viewing, she prays for a positive outcome to the event. 

What happens next is so inconceivable that it will shape Pullamma's future in ways she couldn't have foreseen. TELL A THOUSAND LIES is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but ultimately realistic look at how superstition and the colour of a girl's skin rules India's hinterlands.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Patrick Fox


The cover didn’t grab me, I must admit. It looked too much like a man’s western, which didn’t appeal to my chick lit, light-hearted romance type of read.  But the blurb sounded interesting, so I downloaded the sample – and was immediately hooked!

It had all the elements of a chick lit novel – fun, light-hearted with a little bit of exaggerated realism. The only difference is that the protagonist is male; but it could easily hold its own alongside any Matt Dunn's novels.

Ben Rider was unhappily married (only he didn’t know it at the time), and when his wife died it shocked me, and I almost stopped reading. So glad I didn’t! The death was sensitively done, but there was no lingering over it and soon the story moved on with the same humour and warmth that was there from the beginning. On the eve of her death Ben’s imaginary friend reappears – Trinity. He has come to lead Ben into all sorts of scrapes all in the name of “his destiny”.

Trinity is a cowboy (hence the cover) with three other personalities, which are hilarious in their own right. Love the cowardly pirate!

Ben’s dry narration throughout the novel is a lot of fun, and has many laugh-out-loud moments. He meets Bonnie through his work, and when he discovers she has an imaginary friend all of her own and one that he can see, well, I didn’t think the book could get any funnier.

Trinity is well-written and I can fully recommend it. A well-deserved 5 out of 5 from me.

When Ben Rider finds his childhood imaginary friend, Trinity, in his kitchen, he knows something isn't right. Trinity hasn't changed a bit. He still has three personas: cowboy, pirate, and private eye. He still smells of chocolate, and he still has a habit of massaging his earlobe.

Ben is trying to keep his video game development business alive and finalise a deal with an American games publisher, while keeping his disintegrating marriage together. Now, with the reappearance of his imaginary friend, he has his sanity to worry about too.

Trinity claims he has come back to help Ben sort out his life and guide him to his destiny. But over the days that follow, Ben's life goes haywire, and it looks like he might meet his destiny sooner than he thinks. Thanks to Trinity, Ben will have a restaurant collapse on top of him, be seduced and later shot at by a Welsh femme fatale, meet someone else's imaginary friend, and lose both a wife and an ex-wife. But will he find his destiny, or is Trinity's real reason for returning, something else entirely?