03.19.15

Hellfire & Damnation III by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Posted in Review at 8:50 am by Amber

Title: Hellfire & Damnation III
Author: Connie Corcoran Wilson
Publisher: Quad Cities’ Press
Source: The author in exchange for an honest review

Hellfire & Damnation III

As evidenced by the title, this book is the third short story collection in the Hellfire and Damnation series by Connie Corcoran Wilson. The unifying theme for the series is Dante’s nine circles of hell. It’s been a while since I had a chance to read a short story collection and this was a nice change of pace.

The not so good: A few of the stories have abrupt endings as though the author was trying to stay within a word goal. At least one seemed to have excessive repetitiveness which kept jarring me out of the story.

The good: The stories have an element of reality or truth as the starting point. This will give the reader a slight chill of recognition. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of gore and this was perfect to read during my lunch hour. These stories aren’t overly long but aren’t too short either. The characters are varied in ages, backgrounds and circumstances. Some short story collections suffer from similar stories and each has enough differences to set them apart. I’m willing to read more by this author.

Thank you to the author and Virtual Author Book Tours for arranging this stop on the book tour. Tomorrow’s tour stop is at Lisa’s Writopia which will include her own thoughts on this short story collection.

 

About The Author

Award winning author, Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (MS + 30) graduated from the University of Iowa and Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and seven blogs, including Yahoo, which named her its 2008 Content Producer of the Year. She is a member of ITW (International Thriller Writers), where she is a writer for their online newsletter, and a member of IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association, Chicago chapter), which awarded her its Silver Feather Award in 2012 and 2014, MWA (Midwest Writers Association), AWP (American Writing Program) and MWC (Midwest Writing Center), which named her its Writer of the Year in 2010. She has won numerous E-Lit awards, a NABE Pinnacle award, an ALMA (American Literary Merit Award), Lucky Cinda competition and two IWPA Silver Feather Awards (2012, 2014). Connie’s third book in “The Color of Evil” series, ‘Khaki=Killer’ was just named a Page-turner of the Year 2014 by “Shelf Unbound” and Writer’s Digest magazine in its December/January 2014-2015 issue!

 

Excerpt from Hellfire & Damnation III

Posted in Event at 8:45 am by Amber

VABT Logo

Connie Corcoran Wilson and Virtual Author Book Tours kindly arranged for me to share an excerpt as part of the book tour for Hellfire & Damnation III. I hope you enjoy it!

Circle Six: Heresy

 

The Final Victim

 

Lee had been drinking since late afternoon. It didn’t so much stop the

pain of the voices in his head, as clarify what the voices were saying.

 

     I’ll do the Reverend’s bidding, to a point, thought Lee. Reverend Jones

says Dave Downing has to die. If God or the devil wants poor old Dave dead,

He must give me some sort of sign. I ain’t no cold-blooded killer!

 

Lee took another swig of Old Milwaukee. He would have preferred

Jack Daniels, but he didn’t have the money.

 

Lee looked out the window of the shabby white house that stood be-

low the hill. High up on the hill was where the rich people lived. The poor

people lived down here. Lee was staring at the wet grass of his small yard.

It had rained less than an hour ago. He thought the drops of water on the

grass resembled the tears of some gigantic creature.

 

Lee popped the top of his sixth beer and glanced outside again.

 

Suddenly, birds. Thousands and thousands of birds. Black birds.

European starlings. They were everywhere! On his lawn. On the lawn of

the neighbor to his left, Ed Grant. On Rose Till’s lawn, his neighbor to the

right. He watched Rosie Till’s golden collie, Honey, barking furiously as

she chased the birds as far as her chain would allow.

 

“Melanie! Come quick! There’s birds everywhere! They’re peckin’ away

at our yard and Ed’s and Rosie’s.”

 

Melanie Elliot rushed down the stairs. She could hear the urgency in

her husband’s drunken voice. She stared in astonishment at the spectacle

taking place outside on their lawn.

 

“The weird thing is that the birds stop right there,” she said, pointing

to the perimeter of their neighbors’ lawns. Melanie was right. The birds

were covering nearly every inch of Lee’s lawn and Ed’s lawn and Rose’s lawn.

But the ubiquitous birds, clucking and pecking and sucking eagerly at the

earth’s bosom, stopped at the sidewalks of the two neighboring houses.

Only three lawns were infested by the omnipresent birds.

 

There were no birds across the street. There were no birds on any other

lawns beyond those three, which they could see by glancing up and down

Third Street. Only here, in their lawn and those of their two closest neighbors,

were there hundreds—thousands, even—of noisy, hungry, pecking black

birds, greedily digging with their beaks. But what were they digging for?

 

Melanie asked the question, “What do you think they’re eating? What

are they looking for, Lee?” She asked, “Are they migrating? Is there some

special food in just these three lawns that they’ve targeted? It’s so weird that

they aren’t across the street or, really, anywhere but on these three lawns.”

She shook her head in confusion.

 

Lee took a deep breath. He had just realized something that gave him

a start. He was going to have to admit to the Reverend that he had been

given a sign. The Reverend Jeremiah Jones had predicted to Lee just yes-

terday that he would be given a sign—a sign that he must follow Reverend

Jeremiah Jones’ instructions.

 

Jeremiah said to Lee, “The heavens might open up. You might hear a

loud voice telling you to do what I tell you. To do what is necessary. It has to

be the way I tell you. You’ll have to follow my directions. To the letter.” The

Reverend spoke slowly, in a stern tone of voice.

 

Lee thought, This must be the sign the Reverend was talking about.

What else could it be?

 

What Lee and Melanie Elliot were seeing defied logic. There was no

reasonable explanation for the sudden appearance of hordes of angry black

birds, mimicking Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.

 

The small black creatures were everywhere: on the gables of the houses.

On the roofs of Lee’s house and his neighbors’ homes. On their lawns. In

the trees. Greedily pecking at the still-wet grass, searching for some mys-

terious food item. Some magic worm, perhaps? The entire experience left

both Lee and Melody chattering about the occurrence with their next-door

neighbors for hours afterwards. No one knew of any logical explanation.

 

But Lee thought he might know what it all meant. And he didn’t like

what it meant for his future.

 

To be continued on March 25th at What You Talking Bout Willis?

 

03.04.15

Lock In by John Scalzi

Posted in Review at 8:11 pm by Amber

Title: Lock In
Author: John Scalzi
Publisher: Tor
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library

Lock In by John Scalzi

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four per cent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

New technologies emerge to help those who suffer from the condition—a virtual reality network and a system of “riding” in the bodies of other individuals—which are quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse…

I read this for my Geek Girls Book Club and I really enjoyed it. I started reading it on a Sunday and had it completely read in time for book club on Tuesday. It starts with a prologue disguised as a web site entry. I’m not a fan of prologues in general but in this case it worked. It setup the world and answered questions the reader would have without dragging down the action.

One of the questions posed to the group: “Was Scalzi trying to make a point or statement with this book?” Some of the answers were really serious and tied into the other book discussed that night (The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker). I felt really inadequate when I said I thought there was some kind of bet between Scalzi and Joe Hill and this was the result. As a nod to Hill, Scalzi even incorporated a mention of Corgis near the end.

Overall, it’s an entertaining book. It has a mystery to solve in a future that has enough in common with the present that everything seems plausible.