Tag Archives: Jonathan Maberry

Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: John Joseph Adams, Joe R. Lansdale, Ben H. Winters, David Farland, Mike Resnick, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Beth Revis, Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, Rajan Khanna, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Bear, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffrey Ford, Ken Liu, Laura Anne Gilman, Walter Jon Williams, Fred Van Lente & Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Am I interrupting?” she asked.

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Synopsis

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales – stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic – produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Thoughts

What a fantastic collection. And a great new genre to add to my ever-expanding knowledge of / collection of books. Before reading Dead Man’s Hand and Westward Weird, I had never heard of Weird westerns. And now it’s a genre that I’m seriously keen to find more of. There is just something amazingly fun and awesome about this collection. Very, very enjoyable.

The gunslingers and card players throughout this anthology took me on an absolutely joyous ride. One that I was kind of disappointed finished so quickly. The idea of the wild west has always intrigued me, making this the first time that I was completely able to thrown myself into this fascination.

This anthology didn’t quite get five stars because I didn’t fall head over heels for each and every story. Having said that, I would most definitely read this again. Even those stories which weren’t quite as holy crap amazing as the others.

<- Dead Man’s HandThe Red-Headed Dead ->

Image source: Amazon

Red Dreams by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
Image result for dead man's hand book cover

Title: Red Dreams
Author: Jonathan Maberry
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Weird western, Wild west
Dates read: 19th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Then he fired.

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Synopsis

He is just spending a cold, dark night alone. But then a parade of the dead stream past and the Red Dreams begin…

Thoughts

The beginning of this story was a little bit convoluted and confusing. But, after a while, it started to get… less convoluted and confusing. And much, much better. And once the proverbial penny dropped in my teeny tiny brain… wow. I really, seriously loved this story! And, really, when you’re dealing with death and the dead… I kind of liked that it was so damn convoluted.

I love that this story was not only a parade of the murdered, but a reminder of the cost of war. A reminder that there is always a cost. Not just in soldiers, but also in those who are innocent, including the dogs and cats and horses… it was pretty gruesome really. But, seriously enjoyable.

I’ve love every single one of Maberry’s short stories that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. And this one was no exception. But, now I’m beginning to think that I should really start on some of the novels that I have sitting in my shelves…

<- Strong MedicineBamboozled ->

Image source: Amazon

Urban Enemies edited by Joseph Nassise

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Urban Enemies
Author: Joseph Nassise, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, Jeff Somers, Craig Schaefer, Lilith Saintcrow, Kevin Hearne, Caitlin Kittredge, Carrie Vaughn, Jonathan Maberry, Faith Hunter, Jon F. Merz, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Steven Savile, Domino Finn, Seanan McGuire & Sam Witt
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Urban fantasy, Villains
Dates read: 31st July – 30th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: He’d sent her out of the morgue just long enough to make a quick phone call in private.

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Synopsis

Villains have all the fun

For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down – and in this star-studded urban fantasy anthology, the villains get their say. Told from antagonists’ points of view, this is a rare glimpse into the dark side of your favorite series.

John Marcone decides to battle a cantrev lord instead of going after Harry Dresden in Jim Butcher’s “Even Hand” (Dresden Files). Loki traverses Hell to ahve a sit-down with Lucifer in Kevin Hearn’es “The Naughtiest Cherub” (Iron Druid Chronicles). Kelley Armstrong’s “Hounded” (Cainsville) tells the tale of the Huntsman’s plot to replace his missing hound in a most surprising fashion. The cuckoos are powerful telepathic predators, but one finds herself with difficult decisions to make in Seanan McGuire’s “Balance” (InCryptid). In Jonathan Maberry’s “Altar Boy” (Joe Ledger), the man called Toys is no saint, and certainly isn’t playing around…

Includes other stories by Domino Finn (Black Magic Outlaw), Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches), Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock), Caitlin Kittredge (Hellhound Chronicles), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Steven Savile (Glass Town), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jeff Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), and Sam Witt (Pitchfork County).

Thoughts

I really enjoyed this collection, but it was a little more difficult to get through. Unlike a lot of anthologies, every single one of these stories was placed in an already established world and series. However, unlike the few other books that I’ve read which have the same setup, these shorts didn’t stand by themselves very well. Actually, some were just downright confusing because I had no idea what was happening.

What I did love about this collection is that even though I wasn’t 100% about what was happening… there was a little introduction at the beginning of each story. It just explained the worlds and series in a brief manner. Not excellently because I still didn’t actually get what was happening in a number of stories, but enough that it helped me to place the stories a little.

I’d be keen to reread a number of these short stories. Particularly once I’ve actually read the series in which they are situated. At this point, they’re all on my wish list, so it’ll happen… eventually. I seriously need to stop starting a series and then starting a new one… should really finish a few before I get too hooked into a new series.

 <- Everywhere ReviewEven Hand Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton

Overview
Image result for book cover haunted nights ellen datlow

Title: Haunted Nights
Author: Ellen Datlow, Lisa Morton, Seanan McGuire, Stephen Graham Jones, Jonathan Maberry, Joanna Parypinski, Garth Nix, Kate Jonez, Jeffrey Ford, Kelley Armstrong, S. P. Miskowski, Brian Evenson, Elise Forier Edie, Eric J. Guignard, Paul Kane, Pat Cadigan, John Langan & John R. Little
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections
Dates read: 2nd November – 30th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Blumhouse
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “Very good,” said I.

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Synopsis

Halloween is the night the monsters come out to play. Long before its traditions became defined by mass-produced masks, blood-soaked horror films, and carved pumpkins, the murky origins of All Hallows’ Eve lay rooted in dark festivals and black magick, in old fables of diabolical tricksters and murderous pranks, and in tales of cursed souls lost in purgatory, of vengeance and changelings.

From sly modern narratives to haunting traditional stories, from the brutal to the experimental, these sixteen stories brilliantly and terrifyingly explore the many facets, cultures, and traditions of our most provocative holiday.

Thoughts

This selection is super creepy, intense and wonderful. I absolutely adored it. Even if I spent a lot of the time reading it with my feet curled under me feeling incredibly overwhelmed and somewhat horrified. A whole new world was introduced as I read through this. This might be why I’m starting to get into the horror genre though…

A few of the stories in this did make me laugh. But, mostly they were haunting. Not outright scary like a Stephen King novel, but this lingering feeling of overwhelming discomfort due to something in these stories. I can’t even put my finger on the cause of my discomfort… but after reading one of these short stories I was almost always left feeling like I was just slightly haunted… which was interesting.

Although this collection did make me understand America’s obsession with Halloween a little more. I still don’t like the holiday. There is just something about it that doesn’t sit well with me. So whilst this bought a great new light to a holiday I know basically nothing about… I’m still not convinced that it’s one that I want anything to do with.

<- The Folding Man ReviewWith Graveyard Weeds and Wolfsbane Seeds ->

Image source: Amazon

A Small Taste of the Old Country by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
Image result for book cover haunted nights ellen datlow

Title: A Small Taste of the Old Country
Author: Jonathan Maberry
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 15th November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Blumhouse
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “Maybe she did,” said Becker.

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Synopsis

At All Hallows Eve, the presence of the past likes to linger and haunt us. It reminds us that we are not alone in this world…

Thoughts

This was another of those stories that I just kept having random thoughts on while reading it. The dot points and tired delirium of my notes are far more entertaining than any sentences that I could turn them into… so here they are in all their slightly unusual glory…

  • That’s it, the baker is evil. Pg. 2
  • There is an obsession with Austrian and German descent… I’ve missed something here. Pg. 4
    • But they’re Argentinian? Sure, sure. That MUST be similar.
  • Now there’s talk of dead people and honouring them. Pg. 7
    • Little random, but the true meaning of All Hallows Eve is being shared and explained
  • Pretty beads
  • Very, very love the Halloween adherence to actual traditions
  • Creepy, death and fun!
  • No religion butt head!!!

Not entirely sure where the final comment came from, but I certainly enjoyed this little adventure.

 <- Dirtmouth ReviewWick’s End Review ->

Image source: Amazon

Altar Boy by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Altar Boy
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Joe Ledger Companion
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Thriller, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 6th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “She was brilliant.”

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Synopsis

He’s a “recovering bad guy”, but when he gets involved with a woman, he might just have to question his priorities.

Thoughts

I love that this short story features a “recovering bad guy”. Unlike the other short stories in the Urban Enemies collection, this villain isn’t really trying to be a villain anymore. Rather, he is trying to atone for some of the horrifying acts that he has committed in the past. It’s a nice change from the more typical villain stories throughout the collection.

Altar Boy is kind of tragic – a man is atoning for his past and his sins, but he can’t be left in peace. He’s attempting to find a way in which to just exist is hopeful at the beginning. But, when he is once again forced to face up to his past, things take a more sinister turn. And it’s actually kind of heartbreaking in their eventuality. It doesn’t matter what he does, he has to find a way to justify his actions that are, after all, for the greater good.

One of the most powerful aspects of this story was the key question that it asks you: when has biological weaponry gone too far? It’s an incredibly relevant and scary question in today’s society and one that I kept on playing with like a loose tooth long after turning the final page.

 <- Bellum Romanum ReviewMake it Snappy Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

An Apple for the Creature edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner

Overview
Image result for an apple for the creature book cover

Title: An Apple for the Creature
Author: Charlaine Harris, Toni L. P. Kelner, Jonathan Maberry, Donald Harstad, Marjorie M. Liu, Rhys Bowen, Amber Benson, Mike Carey, Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Steve Hockensmith, Nancy Holder & Thomas E. Sniegoski
In: An Apple for the Creature (Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Short story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 23rd May – 13th July 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Ace Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: He’d charged George, heading toward the cornfield behind the store, and George had shot him.

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Synopsis

Includes a never-before-published Sookie Stackhouse story!

What could be scarier than the first day of school? How about a crash course in the paranormal from Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, editors of Home Improvement: Undead Edition? Your worst school nightmares—taking that math test you never studied for, finding yourself naked in school assembly, not knowing which door to enter—will pale in comparison to these thirteen original stories that take academic anxiety to whole new realms.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris’s story, “Playing Possum,” Sookie Stackhouse brings enough birthday cupcakes for her nephew’s entire class but finds she’s one short when the angry ex-boyfriend of the school secretary shows up.

When her guardian, Kate Daniels, sends her undercover to a school for exceptional children, teenaged Julie learns an all-new definition of “exceptional,” in New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’s “Magic Tests.”

For those who like fangs with their forensics, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder offers “VSI,” in which FBI agent Claire is tested as never before in a school for Vampire Scene Investigation.

And in New York Times bestselling author Thomas Sniegoski’s “The Bad Hour,” Remy Chandler and his dog Marlowe find evil unleashed in an obedience school.

You’ll need more than an apple to stave off the creatures in these and nine other stories. Remember your first lesson: resistance is fruitless!

Includes stories by: ILONA ANDREWS, AMBER BENSON, RHYS BOWEN, MIKE CAREY, CHARLAINE HARRIS, DONALD HARSTAD, STEVE HOCKENSMITH, NANCY HOLDER, FAITH HUNTER, TONI L.P. KELNER, MARJORIE LIU, JONATHAN MABERRY, THOMAS SNIEGOSKI

Thoughts

This book has been on my wishlist for ages. But, it’s one that’s out of print, so I had to get a second-hand copy, and I always seem to be a bit slower at getting these. Now I’m not sure why I waited so damn long! I loved every single one of these short stories. They managed to reflect not only your worst nightmares relived in high school, but it was also filled with stories of training and cops, the paranormal and the supernatural.

Sometimes short story collections are full of tales which fit into series. Some are just full of tales that stand beautifully alone. An Apple for the Creature has a nice balance of the two. Some of these stories are ones which make me want to pick up the rest of the series. Some just a nice appreciation for a new author. It was a great balance, meant that I didn’t break the bank wanting to buy new books, but also found some great new series to sink my teeth into.

This collection contains everything I love about urban fantasy tales. There are vampires and werewolves, dragons and nymphs. Some of these characters are only just starting at their first high school, and others are in training for a greater purpose, such as crime fighting. Regardless of the reason why they’re in school though, every single character in these stories learns something from their adventures and made each and every story a complete, total and utter pleasure.

 <- Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost ReviewPlaying Possum Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Spellcaster 2.0 by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
Image result for an apple for the creature book cover

Title: Spellcaster 2.0
Author: Jonathan Maberry
In: An Apple for the Creature (Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Magic, Technology
Dates read: 17th April 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Ace Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Anthem suddenly stopped biting her thumb and they both looked at the bead of blood that welled from where she’d bitten too deeply.

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Synopsis

A group of academic anthropologists are working on a database of spells to make the perfect summoning spell. But when you play with magic, things can go very awry at the drop of a hat… and they’re about to find out that you just don’t mess with magic.

Thoughts

I understand the pressure and stress of trying to get a ridiculously ambitious project done in a much shorter amount of time than desirable. After all, like the characters in this short story, I too am a PhD student. The fact that this tale of the pressures of being a postgrad student intertwines with murder, mayhem and magic just made me connect all the quicker with the characters and the storyline.

One of the questions I often asked myself when doing my anthropology degree (especially in my honours year) was what right do we have to stick our noses into other peoples’ cultures? Maberry highlights this beautifully with the use of technology and people’s beliefs in the mythos. By taking something that is often a vibrant part of people’s cultures (the summoning of other beings, or demons) and making it so clinical with the use of computers, the way in which we approach things that appear antiquated is really bought into light. We might not have much of a right to stick our noses into other people’s religions, but we definitely shouldn’t be treated it with such nonchalant disregard. Or at least, that’s the way this story takes such an issue…

 <- Playing Possum ReviewAcademy Field Trip Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

A Fantastic Holiday Season edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Keith J. Olexa

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: A Fantastic Holiday Season
Author: Kevin J. Anderson, Keith J. Olexa, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Brad R. Torgersen, Mercedes Lackey, Quincy J. Allen, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jonathan Maberry, Ken Scholes, Heather Graham, Sam Knight, Mike Resnick, David Boop, Eric James Stone & Patricia Briggs
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasShort story collections, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 16th November 2018 – 29th January 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Of course it wasn’t possible that Jimmy had actually ridden in a hyperspace sleigh back to Ceres, when the journey from Ceres to Mars, and vice versa, ordinarily took weeks.

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Synopsis

‘Tis the Season-for 14 more magical, macabre and merry tales to make your Holidays … Fantastic! Gingerbread houses, caroling carolers, brightly trimmed trees, big family dinners, pristine snowfalls … the familiar pleasures of the season. But what better pleasure is there than a good holiday story? So open this winter solstice sampler and indulge in funny festive fantasies, nightmares before Christmas, and stunning space-age celebrations … these stories will warms hearts and minds like a blazing Yule log. Fantastic Holiday Stories by Kevin J. Anderson, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jonathan Maberry, Eric James Stone, Nina Kiriki Hoffman., Quincy J Allen, Ken Scholes, Sam Knight, David Boop, Heather Graham, Brad R. Torgersen, Patricia Briggs

Thoughts

I bought this collection because the very last story is a short story in the Mercedes Thompson series that I don’t yet have. And I started reading this last year to try and get me into the Christmas spirit. And it worked. Beautifully. Fantastically. I’m actually sad that it’s over, even if I finished it after the Holiday Season…

The stories in this collection run the gambit from cutsie little fantasy tales to convoluted and entertaining science fiction tales. They fit into series and stand by themselves. And it’s this range that I truly love. After all, the reason why I tend to read so many short story collections at once is that they get a bit same-same with their tales. The fact that these are far more varied made this collection a little more difficult to put down, and a lot more fun to read than usual.

 <- Unappreciated Gifts ReviewNaughty & Nice Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

A Christmas Feast by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
A Fantastic Holiday Season

Title: A Christmas Feast
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Rot and Ruin Companion
In: A Fantastic Holiday Season (Kevin J. Anderson & Keith J. Olexa)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ChristmasZombies
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: World Fire Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Dan couldn’t risk dragging him back out into the cold.

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Synopsis

It’s always important to have your Christmas celebrations – even if it’s the end of the world and the beginning of a zombie apocalypse.

Thoughts

I love the setting of Christmas against a zombie apocalypse (or at least, that’s what the setting seemed to be to me)…

Christmas time is a time of plenty. Joy. Family. Giving. Zombie apocalypses are a time of… well, nothing. Death. Killing family. Taking anything and everything. So having the two in a story that was kind of hopeful, but also quite dark, twisty made my dark and twisty soul happy. What I loved most though is that although there is a great sense of Christmas and maybe a respite from the horrors of the world… there is also this kind of lingering feeling that they’re about to die in the most horrible of ways. Nothing like a horrible death to make you love the festive season.

 <- Midnight Trains ReviewA World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie Review ->
Image source: Goodreads