52Books: Symptoms of a Broken Heart by Cory Cramer

I received an email a couple weeks ago from writer Cory Cramer asking if I’d be interested in reviewing his novella Symptoms of a Broken Heart. He asked nicely, so how could I say no?

Cory gave me a brief overview, but I really didn’t know what to expect when I got it in the mail a few days later. It was a thin book, a mere 45 pages of story. Definitely skirting the line between short story and novella, though to tell you the truth I’m not sure what those criteria are. Despite being a short read, I set it to the side as I was reading SLEEPLESS at the time.

I found myself a few mornings later picking it up and flipping through the short book. I had a half an hour before taking off to work, so I began Symptoms of a Broken Heart.

Because Symptoms is so short, I can’t really give you much more than the overview that Cory gave me.

The story is about two sisters, Lisa and Susan, who attend a Werewolf Party down in Louisiana. Lisa is the wild child, buxom and beautiful, and Susan is lankier and conservative. Susan is getting married and wants to have one last hoorah before finishing college and settling down into married life. The next morning, however, Susan is mysteriously dead.

Symptoms is all about the twist ending which Cramer starts seeding on the very first page. The twist is one of two things I can really appreciate in Symptoms. The second is the handling of the lycanthropy via dermal transmogrification or totem tattoos that is revealed during the Werewolf Party. I hadn’t seen that before, at least in the way depicted by Cramer.

It was a good read with a satisfying twist.

I will warn that those a little shy of overt sexual acts might be turned off by two key scenes in Symptoms. While utilizing sex as a plot device isn’t really part of my bag of tricks the use of it in Cory Cramer’s story is essential not only in building the character of Lisa but to play out the final twist.

Learn more about Cory Cramer at his website: http://www.corycramer.com

I just finished Jonathan Maberry’s The Dragon Factory, the follow up to Patient Zero. Review will be coming soon.

In the midst of reading Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein.

Look for an audio review of Joe Hill’s Horns later this week on James Melzer’s Unleashed Podcast.

52Books: Horns by Joe Hill

One of the most anticipated books for my 52Books reading list is Joe Hill’s Horns. I had previously read his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, and his debut novel Heart-Shaped Box. It was that novel that made me a fan, regardless of his pedigree, of the writer, Joe Hill.

Over two years passed and no word on what the next book would be, if there would be a next book. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right circles, but in mid-2009 I saw a tweet of his next book and with little else than a title I was excited for a new book.

Almost three years later, Joe Hill’s Horns is in my hands and I’m nervous to read the book. So I crack the spine, hoping Hill’s words are as good as I remember.

Ignatius “Ig” Perrish wakes up with a helluva hang-over. His head is hurting something bad, only he soon discovers that it wasn’t from binging the night before. Ig has grown horns pushing painfully outward stretching the skin of his receding scalp.

Ig soon discovers that the horns aren’t the only change. People are compelled to tell him their darkest desires, asking permission to follow through with the impulses. Also if  he touches a person he becomes privy to their worst deeds. This discovery starts the book off on a dark comedy rift, as we discover the animosity the town has for the bedeviled Ig.

A year ago, Ig was the primary suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin Williams, but when evidence was lost the case against him was dropped. Most everyone believes Ig was guilty, that his famous trumpeter father or TV personalty brother, Terry Perrish, had paid off the right people. Now with horns, silenced thoughts, even from his parents, come to light. When his brother, Terry, makes a damning confession, the story takes a darker turn.

Ig wants to get revenge and retribution, desires redemption, but most of all wants to get back what he lost, and every way he approaches it he damned if does and damned if he don’t.

Horns is many things through out the book and Joe Hill seamlessly navigates you through every aspect from comedy, horror and mystery. At it’s core though, Horns is a love story carried out through loss, memories, sadness and hatred.

Joe Hill takes us a lot of places in a short span, jumping between the present and the past, between perspectives Ig and other casts, between the gray areas of good and evil. As it says on the cover, … the devil is in the details …

I intended to post this last week, but well it didn’t happen. Look for an audio review of Horns later this week in James Melzer’s podcast, Unleashed.

Still a bit behind the 52 mark, but I’m reading as much as I can. Current racing to the end of Jonathan Maberry’s The Dragon Factory and will soon be diving into Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein.

Learn more about Joe Hill at his website: http://www.joehillfiction.com

52Books: Sleepless by Charlie Huston

Read this book. Get a copy of Charlie Huston’s Sleepless and just read it.

I don’t have a long history with Charlie Huston. Before six month ago, I didn’t even know he was a writer. Had I still been an avid $200 a month comic junkie, I’m sure I would have come across the name well before now. But those days are gone.

How I discovered him isn’t important. I just know what I like. I like Charlie Huston. The man’s name even has a swagger that elicits thoughts of his preferred genre, Crime. Almost as if he’s a man in the know.

Read this book.

Sleepless is set in the now, a world so much like our own, I fear Huston might have a thumb on our future. Alter the timelines and choices made ever so slightly, I can believe the present as depicted in Sleepless, as lived by rookie LAPD officer Parker Haas.

In Parker’s world, one in ten are dying from prion based disease called Sleepless (SLP). Similar to Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI), SLP prevents the infected from restorative REM sleep and the disease is 100% fatal. No cure exists, but there is a limited and government regulated drug called Dreamer that alleviates the symptoms reducing the suffering as SLP progresses to it’s final conclusion.

Parker, aside from being a rookie cop, is also a young husband and father, who’s wife suffers with SLP and suspects his daughter might as well. It is Parker’s job to work undercover as a drug dealer and ferret out a potential Dreamer black market. Because Parker is dedicated to the ideals of his job, when he finds a tangible link to what appears to be a gang slaying and is told to back down, proceeds with diligence regardless of the consequences.

Read the book.

Sleepless is told from multiple POV using Parker’s perspective told in first (a journal) and third person, as well as that of an aging hitman, Jasper, who becomes intertwined with Parker’s story.

This stand out novel by Charlie Huston is an engaging police procedural within a terrifying plausible science-fiction wrapper.

If you haven’t already made plans, go get the book and read it.

I’ve fallen behind my book a week target, so sometime this month I’ll double up a week with my 52 Reviews.

Currently reading Horns by Joe Hill. After that will either be Jonathan Maberry’s Dragon Factory or another Charlie Huston, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death.

Learn more about Charlie Huston at his website: http://www.pulpnoir.com