Wednesday, December 30, 2009

13 Questions...with TH Davis


1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
I miss the ability to roam through life not giving a damn. Not knowing or caring about most of what went on around me.

2. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?
Anything with more than four legs!

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
Rare books. I only have three, but that's what I love collecting.

4. You're about the walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?
Ooh, that's a toughy . . . I'd have cheesy chips with lots of coleslaw and fajitas.

5. What is your favorite cookie?
Any cookie is good, but my sensitive teeth mean chocolate is a no-no for me. Unless I wanna be doubled up in agony! Haha!

6. Who is your favorite author?
It's a toss up between Stephen King and M. R. James.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?
In metal: Ynwie Malmsteen. Outside of metal: Zooey Deschanel and her band She and Him.

8. Have you ever had an imaginary friend? If so, who are they?
I have an imaginary place, called the Undercroft. But never an imaginary friend.

9. What's your favorite word?
Neology - the creation of words. Although Rowen Atkinson is a great neologist. He uses another favourite fake word of mine in Black Adder: Interfrastically.

10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
Not to sound narcissistic but, it's me. Haha!

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?
I honestly don't eat Chinese a lot, so I can't say! Haha!

12. What person now deceased would you most want to spend some time with and why?
Probably Friedrich Nietzsche, so I can try to beat some sense out of the man! Haha!

13. What are you currently reading?
I'm about to being Under the Dome by Stephen King.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: A Dozen Dark Dimensions

A Dozen Dark Dimensions by
TH Davis
Available via free download as a PDF on

In a nutshell: if you like quick, eerie short stories that are rich on atmosphere, this is a book for you.

First of all, I need to go on record here as saying one way literary horror has thrived since the 1980's is via the short story format.
It has been my experience over the years that more interesting horror often found expression that way, as opposed to the novel.
That and publishers decided it was easier to put together anthologies than take chances on brand new horror authors, preferring to stay with the sure things, i.e., Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, and VC Andrews.

TH Davis has chosen the short story format to show off his writing skills and I have to say, he hits the mark most of the time.

Highlights are: It Brings A Nightmare, in which an aspiring guitar player brings home a new guitar which brings with it more than the promise of fame and fortune; Klever, Davis's tip o' the hat to Stephen King's IT - creepy as all get out; The Graves Unmarked, which finds a newly appointed cemetery keeper who becomes "cemetery proud" getting a little more to over see than he bargained for; and Blind Faith, finding an 18h birthday celebrant dealing with what is real and what isn't.

The last 4 stories of the collection are Davis's nod to Lovecraft.
This is dicey territory for writers, to try to come close to mastering Lovecraft's style. I'd have to say Davis uses Lovecraft's language, but doesn't quite capture Lovecraft's voice.
Of those 4 stories, Black House was the one I enjoyed the best - a paranormal investigator inspects a house for signs of activity and gets some all right.

As the title promises, these stories all have a very dark dimension to them - in fact the dark itself is a character in most of them.

TH Davis definitely has talent and I want to see where he goes from here.
Nearly all these short stories could easily find life as full blown novels if he were to flesh them out. He introduces characters to the extent that they are interesting enough to make you want to know a little more than the brief glimpse we are given.
Seeing as this is a free download off Lulu, you need to give it a go and get a taste of this up and coming author.

For more information on TH Davis, please go to his website:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

13 Questions...with Sara Kuhns


Good evening constant reader.

I would like to introduce a new feature of The Written Universe, called 13 Questions.

I pose 13 questions to the author being reviewed so you the reader can get to know them better.
(Why the number 13? A baker's dozen? The lucky number 13? You choose.)

Sara Kuhns has answered the 13 Questions.
I now submit her answers:

1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
The absence of sarcasm.

2. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?
Hate flying (in planes--if I had my own wings it may be a different story)

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
I tend to pick up rocks/stones/interesting things that I find on the ground... and when friends travel, they bring these back for me.

4. You're about the walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?
Extremely spicy! Yellow Curry Fried Rice with tofu, cashews, pineapple, raisins; a bowl of blueberries and sliced bananas; Turkish coffee or strong iced espresso; if it's my last meal, then I'd probably eat a few Diesel dark chocolate bars as well (because, really, gaining weight wouldn't be an issue!)

5. What is your favorite cookie?
Not really a cookie but I really like the original flavor Bumble Bars.

6. Who is your favorite author?
This can vary... however, I've been particularly inspired by Clive Barker.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?
I love Radiohead... but lately have been listening to a new musician in LA--John Carpenter.

8. Have you ever had an imaginary friend? If so, who are they?
The characters in my fiction seem real to me. I can see how they react to events, occurrences, and situations. When I write, sometimes it feels as if I'm just documenting what I am observing them do... Does this make them imaginary friends?

9. What's your favorite word?
Oh no, so many to roll off the tongue! But phantasmagoric is often at the top of my word list, closely followed by chiaroscuro because I like their meanings as much as their sounds.

10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
My dog :)

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?
Scallion pancakes (made with rice flour), spicy eggplant and bean curd

12. What person now deceased would you most want to spend some time with and why?
I would like to meet my dad's mom--she died when he was 13.

13. What are you currently reading?
--Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen
--Corpse: Nature, Forensics and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death by Jessica Snyder Sacs
--Food in History by Reay Tannahill
--monologues that my older brother wrote
--the instruction manual for my new camera

Friday, December 25, 2009

In the meantime...

Good evening constant reader.

I am finishing up reading TH Davis's collection of short stories, A Dozen Dark Dimensions.

In the meantime, I am putting the finishing touches on a feature I plan to launch soon, called 13 Questions. I come up with 13 questions to ask my authors to give you the reader a little insight into these individuals.

I hope this finds you all in good spirits this holiday season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: A Sigh For Life's Completion

A Sigh For Life's Completion by Sara Kuhns
ISBN 0-7414-5395-9
Infinity Publishing
Trade paper, $19.95

In a nutshell: if you like vampires and want a new slant, read this book.

Sara Kuhns illustrates the vampire's perspective, making some parts of humanity the real 'monsters' in this story.

Lauren is running a tavern that is barely making ends meet.
Paul enters her life, she makes new friends, business at the bar turns around and life is good.
But Paul is not what he seems.
Paul is a vampire. A vampire with a conscience for the very humanity he must feed from in order to survive.

Kuhns weaves an intricate story whose characters fairly leap off the page. The characters are all clearly defined and could easily support books on their own. Even supporting players are given enough depth to keep them interesting.
Alex, Lauren's partner in running the bar, forever the skeptic, but affable; the Twins - Jael and Jaytee who play pivotal parts in the story as it unfolds; Jasper, the quintessential bar fly; Jonathan, Paul's first in command; Lily, Jonathan's lady; Lou, the retired police detective; Jerry, the priest. All these characters are written so distinctly, you'd swear you've been hovering in the background watching the action of this story play out.
While the city is never specified, it's easy to imagine the neighborhood the bar is located in, the bar itself, Paul's home...all these places come to vivid life.

Vampires with a conscience is not a new theme by any means, but Kuhns succeeds where I believe Anne Rice failed - none of Kuhns's vampires whine about what they are, and they have a true respect and appreciation for the human condition, oftentimes seeming more human than the humans they move amongst.
Kuhns's vampires are able to push thoughts and emotions to one another and to the humans they encounter. As this capability grew more prevalent as the story unfolded, I got to where I wished it really were that easy to calm someone or communicate with them.
Make no mistake though, these vampires can and do mean business when conditions warrant.
I was happy that certain plot twists didn't twist the way I thought they would and that one of the main conflicts I saw coming took a left turn I wasn't expecting.
Kuhns's writing is sure, painting vibrant characters one really cares about, and crafting a plot that maintains your interest.

I found myself taking a bit longer than usual to read this, not because it lagged, but because I wanted it to last and didn't want to end it too soon.
If you are a dedicated vampire fiction reader, then you do not want to miss this book.

This is Sara Kuhns's first novel. I look forward to more from this gifted writer.

For more on Sara, please go to her website:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another work for review!

Good afternoon constant reader.

I am pleased to announce the latest addition to my growing list of To Be Reviewed:

The Kult by Shaun Shaun Jeffrey.

Getting there, and a new addition

Good afternoon constant reader.

I'm almost finished with A Sigh For Life's Completion. I know I could be reading it faster, but it's so full of detail, I didn't want to rush it. I wanted to savor the experience.

I've got another book on it's way for review, the young adult fantasy, Luthiel's Song by Robert Marston Fanney.

When I started this blog, I hadn't considered if I would limit it to adult-intended fare only...after reading a synopsis of Luthiel's Song, I decided to include YA novels as well.
I read all the Harry Potter books and enjoyed them immensely.
I read Twilight and was not favorably impressed.
The YA market is booming and to ignore genre fiction within that market, would be silly.
(I've noted that adult authors Carl Hiassen, Mary Higgins Clark, James Patterson, Clive Barker) writing for the YA crowd, which I think is great.)

Stay tuned constant reader...:)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm moving right along

Good evening constant reader.

I'm still reading A Sigh For Life's Completion by Sara Kuhns - so far so good. (No fair saying anything more as I want to save it for the review!)

I've got work by the following authors lined up for reviews and wanted to get the word out:
TH Davis, CA Milson, Chris Paton, Nick Armbrister and R Vance.

I'll be as quick as I can in getting reviews posted, but I don't want to rush things unnecessarily. Half the fun is a good book savored. ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The first book is here!

Good afternoon constant reader.

The first book up for review, Sara Kuhn's A Sigh For Life's Completion, arrived Friday.

I have started reading it and so far, I am mightily impressed. This is all I'll say for now, as I have barely scratched the surface, and I want to finish the book before making further comment.

I want to thank Sara for being the first to go through this process. :)

In the meantime, I intend to contact more authors and seek out more information regarding the monetization of the blog.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So what do I intend on doing?

As Anthony Bourdain says on No Reservations, he'll tell you what's good and if it isn't he'll tell you that, too.
I don't promise a good review everytime, just an honest and fair one.

When I wrote my first blog, I forgot that I had actually worked in bookstores for 12 years, and in that time, opened two of the three stores I worked for. I know just because I can read may not seem much of a qualification, but I figure I have as much right to express an opinion as any one else.
I'm a huge genre fan, and will be one of the first to admit that I think Anne Rice lost her edge after Queen of the Damned and probably should have stopped there.

As for going with genre fiction, I think genre writers have a tougher time getting taken seriously, this despite the best selling Twilight books, Harry Potter books, The Lord of the Rings, Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels, I could go on...
If I can give genre writers a leg up in getting their work recognized, then I have done what I set out to do.

Also, finding good new genre books is harder these days...major publishers do not give push to genre fiction a lot of times, and smaller publishers can't afford to.
Barnes and Noble no longer has a horror section - several years ago they dumped all the horror into general fiction. They still maintain separate sections for science fiction/fantasy, though.
If you're a new horror author, your work doesn't get put where it can easily be found.
The same is true for Walden's and Books-a-Million (who used to have a great horror section).
Borders still maintains a horror section; it tends to have a few interesting gems hidden in it from time to time (in other words, you'll find more than just VC Andrews, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, and John Saul in stock.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The first book is on it's way!

Good evening constant reader.
(and yes, if you've heard that before, it's the way Stephen King addresses his readers. I like it, I like him, so I've borrowed it, giving Mr. King full credit).

The first book to be reviewed on The Written Universe will be Sara Kuhn's A Sigh For Life's Completion. It's a vampire tale and one I am looking forward to reading. As soon as the book arrives, I will post that it has and set myself to getting it read, digested and reviewed as soon as possible.

In other news, every author on my MySpace friends list I've contacted regarding this blog and my intent have been unanimous in saying it's a good idea, and have supplied me with suggestions I hadn't considered, but will be, and possibly implementing.
Others have generously provided leads to other people who may be interested in providing content at a later date.

I'm very excited about this blog and I can already foresee it going to a web site as soon as the ways and means are made available. However, this will do for now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hello, good evening and welcome

 Welcome to The Written Universe.

It is my intention to find new authors in the genres of horror, science fiction and fantasy and review their work here on this blog, for free.
I don't promise a good review, only an honest one.
If my reviews are positive, I'll even go as far as to publish the review on Amazon for the author.

The face of publishing has changed drastically over the years.
We've seen books on tape turn into books on CD. We're now seeing books go from print to digital.
Getting a book published has changed, too. An author can write a novel and go the route of getting an agent (or not) to get their work to a publisher, but they can also use a vanity press or go through smaller publishing houses who are more apt to publish an unknown.

Make no mistake, it may be easy to get published, but once that's happened, how does an author generate sales, even if it's on line somewhere to order?
Social websites such as MySpace and Facebook are essential tools for an author to create a fan base, but getting their work reviewed is another matter.

What qualifies me to review books and who cares what I think anyway?

I worked in bookstores for 10 years and in that time, I came to know what it is readers are looking for.
They want characters they can identify with on some level and see them through to the end of the story.
A good ending is hoped for, but not always expected. They want something to capture their interest and imagination.
And oddly enough, they do like originality.

I've been reading since before I went to Kindergarten. My mother would read me comic books I dutifully picked out (I was and still am to a degree a DC girl).
I always have a book going and the sole criteria for me to buy a purse is if it will at least hold a mass market paperback.
I look at it this way, if Harry Knowles can put up his web site Ain't It Cool and prosper, get the ear of Hollywood and become friends with Quentin Tarantino, then my love of books alone qualifies me.

If you are an author and wish to submit your work for review, it must be in either the horror, science fiction or fantasy genres.
Why these you may wonder?
These genres are the hardest to break into. To me, they have always seemed to be the step-children of the writing world and not given serious attention, other than that from fans like myself.
They are also my preferred reading.

To contact me, please send email to:

I look forward to seeing where this goes.