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Tag: Susan Berliner

After The Bubbles by Susan Berliner

One touch and you’re dead…

One minute, Erin Fredericks is daydreaming in geometry class. The next minute, she’s running for her life. Oddly shaped bubbles are falling from the sky all over the world, transforming everyone who comes into contact with them into extraordinary beings that are no longer human. And these monsters want to kill people, which they can do just by touching them.
Phone systems in the United States immediately fail, followed soon after by the collapse of the power grid. With communication impossible, society disintegrates into chaos as bubble-generated monsters prowl the streets, searching for human prey.
Erin, her family, and her neighbors are trapped in their houses by Cyndy Louise, one of the evolving creatures Erin calls “touchers.” As the situation worsens, Erin and the remaining residents of Walnut Lane—along with a handsome young stranger—must fight for their food, their homes, and their very lives. Facing a seemingly invincible foe, how will they manage to survive?

Many thanks to the author for this ARC!

AFTER THE BUBBLES has a unique science fiction flair to it. A quiet town is disrupted by floating bubbles that transform people into zombie-like creatures with a deadly secret – they can kill merely by touch. This twist provided a spine-chilling effect, sort of like a game of tag where you are no longer “it”, but “dead”. Think about all the close calls the characters have, doing their best to avoid the slightest pressure of the fingertips of these creatures.

Erin Fredericks and her family become trapped inside their house by a neighbor girl that was transformed into a zombie (or Toucher, as Erin names them). She marches up and down the block, effectively jailing people inside their homes. The only thing that affects Touchers is water – so when it rains the prisoners are happy to leave their house and seek food and other human interaction.

As Erin and her other neighbors explore their town, there is a great post-apocalyptic feel to the surroundings – there are dead bodies strewn about in the supermarket, starving dogs roam the streets, and houses are eerily devoid of occupants. Multiple Touchers attempt to stop Erin and the others from finding food or seeking other human contact. As the book progresses, the Touchers get smarter and stronger. The author does an excellent job of conveying the characters’ frustration of being cooped up inside the house, waiting for a rainy day so they can move about freely.

AFTER THE BUBBLES is written in a slightly different style than the author’s other books. It has a slightly YA flair to it, yet it will appeal to readers of all ages. Teen readers will especially identify with Erin’s melancholy, as she wonders if she will ever have a boyfriend or be able to hang out with girls her own age again. Her brother is too young to worry about anything other than video games, while Erin is of an age where she is thinking about more adult things.

The book’s story line alternates between suspense, as Touchers are dealt with, and waiting for rain. I felt that the book could have been trimmed down a bit by eliminating some of those scenes, since there were more than enough passages that conveyed that illustrated the plight of Erin and her family. That is the only issue I had while reading. Otherwise, I was engaged with the characters and hoped they would escape unscathed. The cover states that this story is “Book One” so I know there is more action to come in the future. I will definitely be looking for the second book in the series to find out what happened!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

The Sea Crystal and Other Weird Tales by Susan Berliner

TSC eBOOK COVER

Welcome to Susan Berliner’s world. It’s a place where strange things–both good and bad–happen. Meet some of the inhabitants:

* Doreen. It’s time for her wedding but where is everyone? (Doreen’s Wedding)
* Neal. The face he sees in the mirror is no longer his own. (Mirror Image)
* Deb. All she does is recite four Latin words. How bad can that be? (The Rapunzel Effect)
* Ben. Everything he says sounds like gibberish. (Wordless)
* Mary. Her sweet dreams become nightmares and then the nightmares become real. (Dare to Dream)
* Kayla & Dan, Lisette & Omar. Two vacationing couples, one white and one black, form a bizarrely close relationship. (The Sea Crystal)
* Alicia. She waters office plants for a living. It’s a stress-free job, right? (The Plant Whisperer)
* Isabel. The man in a red sports car looks exactly like her long-lost husband. (Nathan’s Return)
In this weird world, you’ll encounter a variety of genres from thriller and horror to fairy tale and humor. Enjoy your visit!

 

Thanks to the author for gifting me this book for review!

Once I started reading these stories, I could not put my Kindle down. Short stories are always good, because you can read one and pick up again with a brand new story. However, once you start reading anything written by Ms Berliner, you had better clear your calendar. Her characters are haunting, memorable, and real. Despite the horror/thriller undertones in some of the stories, each character seems authentic.

As I read, I kept thinking of the Twilight Zone, with offbeat stories that started out normal, but always had some strangely plausible but unsettling ending.  THE SEA CRYSTAL is just like that. Normal people: a bride, an office worker, couples on vacation — what could be so strange about that?

You are in for a real treat. It takes a special talent to be able to create a scene in a few pages, from beginning to end, and this is where the author excels. As soon as the story begins, you are thrust into a little microcosm where things look ordinary…mundane, even.

But then…plants start talking, or someone disappears, or someone who is there turns out that they were never even there in the first place!

Much like a riddle or a brain teaser, these tales will get under your skin and not be shaken off that easily. One of the stories in particular, DOREEN’S WEDDING, left me with a queer little ache in my heart. Entirely plausible, simply done, and utterly gripping. I challenge anyone to read that and not be moved.

Berliner is a talented weaver of stories, and I guarantee you will love this book. Click [easyazon_link identifier=”0983940150″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link] and pick up your copy RIGHT NOW.

 

CORSONIA

 

Can two teenage girls save a town?

When Loren Cofton and Tracie Marinez visit the remote hills of northeastern Nevada on a cross- country drive celebrating their high school graduation, the fun vacation quickly morphs into a perilous adventure.

After photographing an abandoned gold mine, Loren swipes a bottle of water from an eerily robotic man stocking bottles in the only occupied store of an otherwise deserted shopping center. The water’s effect on Loren leads the pair to investigate the strange little town of Corsonia–despite threats from the local sheriff. And when Loren and Tracie befriend a child named Boy 11, who tells them about his curious life and upcoming fate, the girls become even more determined to figure out what is going on.

As the relentless teens uncover a horrifying trail of evil, they put their own lives in dire jeopardy. Will the girls be able to rescue the people of Corsonia–or will Loren and Tracie become the town’s next victims?

 

 

Many thanks to the author for providing this free review copy to me!

CORSONIA starts out with a benign trip; two best friends are exploring ghost towns and complaining about the heat. As the blurb notes, drinking some local water opens the girls up to unspeakable evil being perpetrated. Loren is a strong willed girl who takes it upon herself to bring justice to the townspeople, much to Tracie’s dismay.  The girls concoct a plan to sneak back into the town and gather information, solving problems and escaping danger time and time again.

This book was a pretty straightforward read: girls discover problem, girls try to solve problem, girls run into trouble. I enjoyed very much how the main characters were portrayed as strong women with character and intent, not ditzy females clamoring about boys and makeup. As Tracie must make decisions for herself more and more, you can see her persona develop and she comes into her own at the end. The girls solve their own problems and take responsibility if things don’t go as planned.

There is minimal backstory for Loren and Tracie, but that was fine–I enjoyed reading about this single chapter in their lives and didn’t wonder much about what happened before they went on their road trip. Their relationship is solid and their teenage dialogue reflects close friends, complete with eye rolling and awareness of what the other will do in any given situation.

The author does well to paint a picture of bleak existence; the inhabitants of Corsonia are robot like and appropriate. I could feel the dust blowing in my eyes and needed a drink of water myself, as I read about the girls trekking aross the deserted city.

Later on in the book, there is a confrontation between the bad guys and Tracie—there is a great deal of violence, which surprised me. It seemed different from the rest of the story somehow. The plot advances with the action, but the bloodshed was disconcerting; and I found a lack of emotion at times in Tracie’s reaction (or non-reaction).  It almost seemed surreal as the bodies piled up. That is the only complaint I have about CORSONIA; otherwise there is some quiet humor and sly little details that are quite funny, such as Tracie complaining about her fake beard itching (they disguise themselves at one point) or the immense cupcake consuming capacity of the evil Merlynn. It also seemed that most of the men weren’t able to make decisions on their own; the women are the leaders all through the book. That’s a refreshing change, for sure.

The strength of the book is the tenacity and nerve of the lead characters. They are good role models, as girls who have the courage and desire to help those less fortunate. If Tracie and Loren showed up in another book, solving another mystery, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00R6DNGM8″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

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