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Review: “Mad Reality versus Aurelius” by James Ayrford

“Mad Reality versus Aurelius” by James Ayrford

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 3 August 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Experimental philosophical short story as deep and insightful as Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

How the eyes of the abyss look like, when she stares back at you? Does she, like a woman, enjoys attention and whip or not? Or why even staring into it, what can be seen there and is it even worth it?

So here is what I’ve seen in there.

Like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, protagonist fictitious travels and endeavours serve as a metaphoric vehicle to present and illustrate philosophical ideas such as subjectivity of reality that people experience in their daily life, influence of religion on the world and its anatomy, psychology of the masses and of love, possibility and requisites of happiness. It consists of two narratives: one follows endeavours of main protagonist Aurelius and the other describes major historical events of the world of Mad Reality. Most characters and events in actuality are an allegoric representations of the real world concepts and ideas, for example Maximus embodies Ancient Rome, its values and metaphysics.

The story is set in a magic and odd technology infused, somewhat bizarre and even gruesome, metaphoric world. It starts with Aurelius reflecting over the disappearance of a mysterious women named THD as well as over everything his life had been about so far. As the story progresses, not only details of their love affair and other events revealed, but also both surface and hidden reasons behind various events of his life and even those of a broader world that caused it all to turn out this way.

Conversation with THD led Aurelius to eventually discover a psychological working of love that led to a metaphysical conclusion of her real nature, and other events and stories have their own philosophical, existential, metaphysical or psychological wisdom to tell.

Among them causes of conflict between Aurelius and priests of the Model over the existence of a certain dios as well as reasons for it unusual outcomes. As well as war between dioses Redemptius and Bicornerius and their followers that, while settles, leads only to further beaconing conflict with even more contestants. Origin of dioses and reasons for their popularity among the people and importance in the grand scheme of things. And even motives behind hitting a ground with a forehead according to a prescribed method shared by fellow ground-hitters and why it is not only a very popular activity but also a sacred ritual of great sanity. And many other witticisms.

Author of this masterpiece is a mysterious, solitary philosopher with a Bachelor degree in an unrelated field, who nevertheless has sound understanding of literature of merit due to independent studies and, in addition to works of Nietzsche, read such famous literary works as One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Slaughterhouse five by Kurt Vonnegut.

And he intends to eventually write several more books in this series.

Review: This story was another one with a good idea at the heart of it, or at least an intriguing one, that was hampered by the mechanics of the storytelling itself.

First off, I almost didn’t accept this book because I’ll admit I tend to steer away from books that describe themselves as “masterpieces” in their own summary. But the idea sounded curious and I wanted to see how it played out. It was also a short read.

Throughout the thirty pages, it feels like the author can’t decide if it is a fiction story or a non-fiction treatise on the ideas of reality and religion and perception (to name a few) that are played out. This book is 95% Tell with very little Show, which rarely works in contemporary fiction.

The allegories–which you know about going in since they are pointed out in the description of the book–sway between very vague and very heavy-handed. And I was disheartened to find that the sub-plot featuring THD contained, to my opinion, more than a thread of misogyny. (And in my opinion, not enough was done with it to make it anything else.)

Too much was done in this story to fit the size of it, and the writing itself needed an editor who could help the construction of sentences and paragraphs in both form and function to make it actually readable.

For the ideas of it and that I was able to finish it, it’s a 1.5 Fireballs. A review I hate to offer, but this is my opinion.

1.5 Fireballs

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Darren Gallagher is Visiting!


“Strings” by Darren Gallagher

Published on… August 13, 2014
Published as… Horror

Darren Gallagher’s Guest Post

Why did you choose to write horror?
Basically, I chose to write horror because I grew up around it. There was always someone telling a ghost story, or trying to scare you as a kid. Then when I broke into my teenage years, my brother was reading Stephen King — I think it was Nightmares and Dreamscapes. He would tell me about the stories he read, saying how great they were, and in turn that made me pick up the book and start reading. I got so into it that when he wanted to read the book he had to wait until I was finished whatever story I was reading. Finally he had enough and bought me The Shining, and from then on everything I’ve read, watching, played(computer games), it has all revolved around horror.

There are many different story lines and themes in “Strings” two of the stories however started out the same way. I attend a writing class every week, and on one of the nights the tutor gave us a trigger, it was ‘Red Alert’. Two little words and I let my imagination run wild. At first I liked the way the words sounded together but something pulled me away from them and led me to write ‘Ruby Red Soldiers’ the first story in the book.

Those two words however kept repeating in my mind and then one night I sat down and wrote the story ‘Red Alert’ (you can find an excerpt below) and in turn gave me one of my favorite stories in the book.

Both stories have a little vial or red liquid in common, but that’s it. Each story however will leave you craving for more, even a little vial of your own.

About the Book

33 dark tales; the invisible bindings that tie us all together.

Within this book you will find terrifying tales from catastrophic celebrations, to freaky family funerals…

Beware the supernatural, Beware the weather…

Beware the strings.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Author

Darren Gallagher Author Photo
Darren Gallagher was born and currently lives in Co. Donegal, Ireland. Having dropped out of school at fourteen, he decided in 2008 to finally pluck up the courage and follow a dream that had been haunting him since childhood. Receiving a Diploma in Creative Writing from Kilroy’s College in Dublin was the first step in re-learning the English that he’d forgotten, and that he never knew.
A natural night owl, when everyone else is sleeping, he hears the bumps and the creaks, captures them, and turns them into stories to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Strings, is his first collection. His second collection is finished, and his first Novella is due for release February 2015.

~* Website * Facebook * Twitter *~

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Review: “Dark Messages” by Daniel J. Weber

“Dark Messages” by Daniel J. Weber


Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 31 October 2013

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Tune your ears to the darkness, hearing the messages therein. Turn your eyes to the pages. Watch darkened words as they seep through those cavities in your skull, fill every pore of your skin, and enliven your heart with Dark Messages. Life can be full of fear, but the emotion does not have to live in vain. Consider the messages skulking behind each dark, horrific story in this collection.

Review: This was a collection of short stories by the same author. I’m going to review each story individually, and then have some final thoughts on the collection as a whole.

Undying Memories
This was interesting and had the feeling of allegory. It felt a little overwritten and repetitive, however, which made it hard for me to sympathize entirely with the mother character, despite my usual penchant to get too much into stories of this nature. (It was a tough topic and one that I usually struggle with.)

A Mile in My Shoes
This one I found to have a rather fascinating premise. Despite the colloquialism that is the title, people never think about the shoes. And then there was the circle in the story, which I liked.

A Storm is Coming
It was very short–flash fiction, really–but I’m a big fan of anthropomorphism and personification, so I really like that. A short but cool story.

Master of Death
Again with both the personification and the circles, but as they are both things I like, it worked for me. It had a very surreal feeling to its style, and that made it a little convoluted at points. But still intriguing.

Know Not What They Do
This one I didn’t really like. Not *because* it was religious, but because of what it did in that frame. The demons made it a sort of “cop out,” I found, and removed the human involvement and responsbility that I think is integral to the biblical story. That, and the removal of the women at the tomb annoyed me, but that’s a pet peeve, if you will.

Another story with a slightly heavier handed feeling of allegory, a little too much for me, so this wasn’t my favorite in the group although the theme of infinity and what goes around, comes around, is a theme through out the whole collection and so it was still a fitting tale to end on.

Over all… Themes that I enjoy, as mentioned above, were recurrent in the stories and I did like that.

One interesting thing I noticed after I finished was the feeling of a sort of…removal from the narrators. It made it feel like the readers are observers rather than participants. The stories are dark and emotional, yet it lacks the feeling of emotional involvement to the reader. At least as much as one might think there would be.

Even so, the surrealistic feeling to the prose’s style made me feel like the removal was intentional. That we were meant to be observers to these stories, and as such, it was a goal that was achieved and did work for the collection. Thus what in other stories would be a detriment, makes something of a benefit here.

The stories do involve many dark elements–suicide (of a sort), murder, abuse, destruction on various levels and of various types–so it’s not a collection that would be for everyone, but if you can handle these elements and want to look at them from this step back, you’d probably enjoy it.

Apparently my reviews lately are brought to you by the number four… 4 Fireballs. The observation effect worked for the collection, but for me, I have to be more emotionally involved for a higher rating.

4 Fireballs

Review: “Klondaeg Saves Fromsday” by Steve Thomas

“Klondaeg Saves Fromsday” by Steve Thomas

Available on: Smashwords * Barnes & Noble * Amazon
Released on: 5 September 2013

I downloaded this book for free at Smashwords.

Description: The feasts! The pageants! The coconuts!

Fromsday is here and Klondaeg is invited. Join Klondaeg as he visits the land of the frog-people to attend a festival in honor of Fromdon, God of Coconuts. But all is not well in the frog-lands, where a monster has disrupted the proceedings and threatens to pull a family apart. Can Klondaeg save Fromsday? Find out in this very special episode of Klondaeg the Monster Hunter.

Review: This was a short story, so there’s not a whole lot to be said. People who have already read Thomas’ other Klondaeg stories will enjoy this one, I believe, just as I did for being more wryly silly Klondaeg storytelling. I really enjoy Thomas’ humor in his epic fantasy setting, and The King’s Rest is as much a wittily good time to read along with as ever, in a story with a dash of amusing irreverence. And, of course, c’mon…a holiday for frog-people around coconuts? Hard to go wrong.

Another solid 4 Fireballs tale.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “Hym and Hur” by Phillip Frey

Hym and Hur by Phillip Frey. I received this free in exchange for an honest review. You can find your own copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Description: In this fantasy-comedy Hym and Hur are a young couple who never age and have been in love for more than a century. They also possess an array of magical abilities, two of which are either to play pranks on humankind or to perform good deeds. Enacting both at the same time is now what gets them into trouble, especially since it’s the character of Death they must deal with to bring their plans to fruition.

The prank Hym and Hur have come up with must first be agreed upon by Death, who happens to be a rambunctious, difficult character. Once agreed upon, the prank is set in motion. But then Hym and Hur soon discover that Death had tricked them into a contract with dire consequences for all of us.

During their attempt to break the contract, Hym and Hur try to save the relationship of an earthbound couple, knowing they are truly meant for each other. A good deed that will bring Hym and Hur even more trouble.

Review: This was a fantastical little diversion, is the best way I can describe it. Amusing, albeit a little…pointless, although I don’t really say that as a bad thing. Entertainment for entertainment’s sake is never a bad thing, but there didn’t feel to be any serious drive to the story. So it was simply a quickly paced, whimsical little story about magical beings (although we learn very little about them) who like to interfere, for better or worse, with humanity. A common trope, but still fun.

Though as I’m the twisted sort, I found Death to be the more amusing. Personifications of Death are usually funny and morbid, and I like that.

The ending was a bit abrupt, but in a short story, it was not ill suited. Though I might have liked just a touch more. And there were some dialog attribute habits I see from many authors that are a bit of a pet peeve of mine and were, I’ll admit, a tad distracting for my inner editor. But at this length, with its quick pace and the breezy style to its prose, it was enjoyable. Missed that spark to make me rave, but I’ll call it 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Review: “A Circle of Iron (Eldernost: Book 1)” by Greg Benage

A Circle of Iron (Eldernost: Book 1) by Greg Benage. I purchased this on my own from Smashwords.

Description: Given a choice between the hangman’s noose and the fallen city of Eldernost, bounty-hunter Caleb Thorn is forced to venture into the ruins to confront the notorious wight raider known as Redmourn. Amidst the crumbling remnants of a lost age, Thorn must face the demons of his own troubled past if he is to find the strength to protect those he cares about most.

Review: This story is going to be kind of hard to review.

I liked it, but I did have some issues with it. The prologue felt entirely unneeded to me and I almost didn’t get into the book, maybe because of it. The prologue didn’t grab me, but the first and second chapters did. If I had started at the first chapter, it probably would have gotten me better.

This was epic fantasy without enough backing up the epic. I did like the characters, and the world. I thought it was a very interesting take on what’s on otherwise common creature. (Read the story to understand.) But it felt like not enough was given for what was trying to be accomplished.

I would have liked more ominous foreshadowing on Redmourne, and a little more about the characters leading into the dramatic parts towards the end. Things about the history of the wights and of magic were kind of tossed in later and felt more like… last minute plot devices. I would have liked those foreshadowed more, little bits and pieces dropped in earlier.

And yet… I did like it. I’m not sure I can say I really liked it, but I will be checking out the second book when it comes out next month, so that makes this a 3.5 Fireballs review.

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Review: Two Erotic Anthologies

Inappropriate Behavior and Other Stories by Aussie Scribbler. I purchased this on my own from Smashwords.

Description: A psychiatrist who resorts to spanking his bratty nymphomaniac patient ; a rascally Arab who swaps places with his identical twin eunuch brother in order to sample the delights of the harem ; supermarket workers who raise money for the homeless with their Cop a Feel Day ; a woman who dreams she is a talking Playboy centrefold ; a perverted prince who takes advantage of Sleeping Beauty. And more!

Review: I liked this collection, and there was a vein of humor that made it more enjoyable for me. I wouldn’t have minded a little more diversity in the gender/groupings, but otherwise, these stories were sexy and fun. I give it 4 Fireballs.

* * *

Sensuous Stories by Keziah Hill. I purchased this on my own from Smashwords.

Description: A collection of erotic, slightly twisted stories to simulate your libido and your mind. A sexy ghost haunts an art exhibition; strawberries as a sex aid; gardeners up to more than just weeding; a new secretary who’s not what she seems. These and more are included in this anthology for your reading pleasure.

Review: These were nice. Nothing that necessarily blew me away, but they were well done and I liked some of the turns in the stories. The writing was competent and the sex scenes were generally good. As with another sexy anthology I just wrote a quick review for, I wouldn’t have minded some more diversity to the M/F monogamous pairing set-up, but was still fun to read. I give it a 3.5 Fireballs because I more than liked it, but can’t quite say I really liked it.

Review: “The Red Man” by Anna Reith

The Red Man by Anna Reith, purchased on my own from Smashwords.

Description: An archaeological dig unearths an ancient Celtic secret that should have stayed buried.

Review: We hit another one of those books that has lots of raves and then… my opinion. I just didn’t like it that much. The idea was interesting, and I liked the history she chose to use, but I found the story far from riveting and like… 90% of it was Tell. Now, in a short story, that’s hard to avoid. In First Person, it’s also hard to avoid, but it felt like the entire thing was just Telling me. I want to be Shown a little more than that.

I’m afraid I can only give this a 2.5 Fireballs, but it seems other people enjoyed it far more and I wish everyone to like it better than I did.


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