Review of Craig DiLouie and Jonathan Moon’s “Children of God”
Children of God by Craig DiLouie and Jonathan Moon is an unexpected surprise from these two horror writers. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever read something quite like this, even though I’ve read quite a bit of poetry. This is a book that shares the tales of tragedy lived through by ten survivors, most of who can only do so through the poems they craft years after the events that destroyed the lives of everyone they knew and with whom they shared a slavish faith.
Going in, we know that the Family of God cult, led by David Prince, came to a horrific end via a mass suicide and bloody massacre on August 17, 2008, when well over three hundred members holed up in their mountain compound died with barely thirty surviving. Years later, as a form of therapy, a psychiatrist suggests the survivors write poetry as a way to express themselves. This book shares what theses ten survivors who chose to offer up their words had to say.
How the two authors craft an overarching vision of what led up to that day of tragedy, through it, and beyond is haunting, vivid, and gut-wrenching. This diverse group of poets includes children, a former prostitute, seminary student, an elderly woman abandoned by her biological family before joining the cult, a mentally impaired man, an organist, gangbanger, war veteran suffering from PTSD, and a young man who lost his immigrant parents in an accident years before joining the Children of God. Their poetry speaks of sacrifice, devotion, desires for a better world, regret, and a heavenly reward beyond this realm promised but never realized.
A story takes shape through their words and despite being a fairly short book, it paints a vivid picture of what takes place, especially on THE day where the cult comes to its brutal and horrible end. It’s easy to say that such slavish devotion to a charismatic leader is misplaced and to convince yourself that you could never fall for such lunacy, but all one has to do is to take a look at the world at large to see how desperate so many of us are, and how willing so many are to believe in false prophets and leaders who promise extreme and distorted visions of a better world. Which makes this book of poetry all the more poignant.
Children of God can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Children-God-Dreams-Nightmares-Family-ebook/dp/B01ENXYWU8?ie=UTF8&qid=&ref_=tmm_kin_swatch_0&sr=
Review of “Tales of the Undead: Hell Whore”
Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is the first in a series of anthologies, with this one specifically having as its theme devilish women. The overall title “Tales of the Undead” is perhaps a bit inaccurate, since many of these stories have nothing to do with the undead, but the subtitle is certainly more of a description of what is included within its pages. In some stories, this association is obvious, while in others that association to evil women is a lot more subtle.
It is often difficult to provide a review of an anthology because almost without fail, they are a mixed bag. A consistent theme often allows for a more comprehensive overview-each author provides a story to the mix that sticks to a sometimes loose, but understood guideline. TotU-HW does have a theme, but it runs the gambit with stories of vampires, ghosts, demons, witches, Satan, human-animal hybrids, werewolves, ancient gods, sexually voracious women, and even more of a mix of swirling horrors. And that isn’t even mentioning the poems, which are as diverse a lot as the short stories.
There were some gems in this book from my perspective, including “Entre of the Damned” and “Girls are Icky”, both appreciated for entirely different reasons, and of course some stories that did not click, which I will admit is more due to personal preference rather than the quality of the work, at least in most cases. The writing styles here are quite diverse, with everything from the delicately subtle to in your face. I enjoyed “Who F&*ked Up Kelly Yesterday?” because I have a taste for bizarro horror, while I know that there will be plenty of folks who would be repulsed by this story’s audacity. There were a few stories that I felt that the writing was a bit rough, with both the story itself and the way the author telling it making it feel forced and hard to get through, but there those were only a select few out of this bunch. There were some sagas that felt incomplete to me-either telling instead of showing and letting the tale reveal itself, or in one case where the writing style seemed a bit forced and awkward- like the author was providing a summary rather than providing the reader with the story itself.
Anthologies are journeys where the road is both smooth and bumpy at different times. Rarely do you find a short story compendium where every story hits the mark. But finding a short story or poem you really enjoy and that will stick with you makes the journey through the good, the great, and the bad worthwhile. Tales of the Undead-Hell Whore is such an anthology.
Tales of the Undead: Hello Whore can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLR40A2/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of “MonsterMatt’s Bad Monster Jokes, Volume 1”
What can I really say about this book? It is well over a hundred pages of some of the most groan-inducing jokes about monsters and monster related topics I have ever seen. Not just jokes, but rhymes, raps, and song parodies. MonsterMatt does his best to make you want to stick a fork in your eye, and then, after you’ve gotten over the pain from such an agonizing injury, use your remaining good eye to read more of his jokes. I’m not really sure what kept dragging me back in for more, but I suppose part of it has to be the fact that there is no deception used here-no attempt to convince you, the reader, that any of these jokes will do any more or less than make you cringe at how pun-ishingly bad they are. Of course, if you are like me, and don’t try to take the world we live in too seriously all the time, there is a place for a book like this one. One that you can share with your kids and get them to moan and roll their eyes at you for telling them such bad jokes…ones that they might just tell their friends and not let you know that they did so.
You get everything from the classics: jokes about Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Wolfman…and jokes about some of the newer stuff out there, like True Blood, The Walking Dead, and movies like Dead Snow. Given that this book is entitled Volume 1, I fear that MonsterMatt is not finished, so be warned. The bad jokes apparently shall return to induce even more headaches and heartburn!
MonsterMatt’s Bad Monster Jokes, Volume 1 can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/MonsterMatts-Bad-Monster-Jokes-1/dp/1617060941/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329709231&sr=1-1
Review of Carole Lanham’s “The Whisper Jar”
Carole Lanham has compiled a series of intriguing poems and short stories that all revolve around the experiences of children in dark and strange places-sometimes these places are in the mind, and in other instances, geographically and chronologically distance lands that seem like dreamscapes, even if they are in places as commonplace as a farm in rural Iowa. The stories here have a way of tantalizing without revealing too much, too soon. Many of the stories tease about the relationships among boys and girls-their dreams and fears, lusts and passions. And while what the characters are experiencing seem so real and within your grasp as a reader, there is a magic allure to them that makes them fleeting and illusive. They have an otherworldly quality about them. It is not just the tales with obvious magic, like ‘Keepity-Keep’ or ‘Friar Garden…’, or the tales beset with monsters, like ‘The Good Part’ or ‘The Blue Word’, but every tale and every poem within this compilation. Even though ‘Maxwell Treat’s…’, ‘The Reading Lessons’, and ‘The Forgotten Orphan’ all seem as if they could take place in the real world-our world-the author manages to transport us to mysterious and alien realms in them that are fascinating and dark beyond the realities most of us will ever deal with.
I enjoyed this compilation. I had read ‘The Blue Word’ previously, and while I normally skip a tale when I come across it for the second time, I found myself compelled to read it again and was filled with the same level of sadness and regret that I felt the first time, even when I knew what was coming at the end of the story. It is one of my favorites in this book, along with Keepity-Keep. Some of the other tales didn’t resonate with me quite as much, but they still had a flavor to them that is hard to pin down or describe-like a meal in a restaurant you’ve never been to before. They sort of leave a odd taste in your mouth, but not in a bad way…in more of a fantastical way that sticks with taste buds long after the food is gone. There wasn’t a particular story or poem I didn’t like-the author pulled me in with each, and even if there may have been a certain aspect or one or the other that didn’t click for me (the ending of ‘Friar Garden’ seemed rather abrupt for my tastes), they all made sense in a strange, dream-filled way.
Carole Lanham has a tremendous talent for the written word. I don’t just mean this because she can craft a story, which she most certainly can do, but because there is a particular quality to each story that transports you, like some authors are able to do-taking you elsewhere with just a few words in the first few sentences. Some authors make you feel at home with their writing, as if you are reading about people you feel like you know and could find yourself surrounded by even if they are in a environment that is pure fantasy or beyond belief. Carole Lanham does not do that here, in this book. Instead, she has the knack of introducing characters and places that take you out of that comfort zone and puts you on alert that there is something strange going on, both in the world at large and within the characters themselves that make them different from you or I. You may not be able to figure it out right away, and even if you think you do, you realize that there is probably more to it with every passage you read. And in the end, things don’t all fall into place. You are left wondering what just happened.
The Whisper Jar is a compelling read, sweet and savory while often times leaving you squirming with discomfort as you journey through its pages.
You can find The Whisper Jar here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Whisper-Jar-ebook/dp/B0062ID33K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324185038&sr=8-1
“Collabthology: Kindle of the Dead” is now available!
A year ago (or there abouts), I agreed to be a part of a project that would bring together around twenty different authors in a collaboration effort to write a zombie book. Each of us would take on the responsibility of writing a chapter of the book, until we got to the half-way point, and then we would mix it up and write another chapter each to finish the book. It would be a chance for each of us to build upon what anyone who had written chapters before us, and try to keep things cohesive while messing things up, killing off beloved characters, and putting those who survive into some really crazy situations.
We are now halfway through the project. In an effort to raise the funding so that once this magnum opus is complete, it can be published, the coordinator of this project, Matt Nord, came up with the idea of creating an anthology of short stories written by the various authors involved in the project. He would also put the first five chapters of the collaboration in this anthology, in an effort to wet the future audience’s taste buds for this project. So what we have is something that Matt has called Collabothology. Despite this odd word, it is a great little project, and here is the description of it:
Collabthology. Is it a real word? Yes. Will you find it in the dictionary? Probably not, unless you get one that I’ve found a scribbled the word “Collabthology” into.
But that’s besides the point. What you hold in your hands is an anthology chock-full of fan-freaking-tastic horror stories (note that while most are zombie stories, not all are) from a ton of names you probably know as well as some new writers you may not know. Either way, you are in for a treat!
This anthology is also my attempt to introduce the public to the world of the Collaboration of the Dead. At the end of this anthology are the first 5 chapters from the Collaboration of the Dead, a novel featuring over 20 of the best and brightest writers in the horror/zombie genre. Each writer adds a bit of themselves to the story and makes it their own.
Collabthology features stories by Patrick D’Orazio, Gerald Rice, Mike Mitchell, Rebecca Besser, John McCuaig, Brandon Cracraft, Jeremy Bush, Ken Goldman, Lorraine Horrell, Marius Dicomites, Jamal K. Luckett, Douglas Hackle, Cassie Shaver, C.H. Potter, T.W. Brown, Tony Schaab, Suzanne Robb, Mihai Boc, Ben Langhinrichs, Michael S. Gardner and Matt Nord, poetry by Carey Burns, Karime Limon and Matt Nord and sample chapters from Collaboration of the Dead from Matt Nord, T.W.Brown, GNBraun, Zombie Zak and Stephanie Kincaid.
So, for those of you who don’t know what Collaboration of the Dead is, this will be your first taste of what we are about! Bon appetit!
And so, I am proud to be a part of this project, both the collaboration itself and this anthology. If you are looking for an opportunity to check out some interesting and varied horror stories, and want to see a bit of the collaborative effort some of my fellow authors have put to paper at the beginning of the book that will hopefully come to fruition in the next year or so, swing by Amazon and pick up your copy of Collabthology. Just click on the image below, and it will get you there.
Review of “From Beyond The Mist” by Elizabeth LaFond
I am not a huge poetry aficionado, but on occasion I will check out poetry from a few different sources out there that are related to my interests. From Beyond the Mist is from the Library of Horror, but most of the poems written here are not of traditional horror, at least not of the supernatural, though there are a few poems of that bent. Much of what the author provides us with is tastes of reality, seen through the eyes of someone who has experienced despair in their existence. A poem of something as simple as a leaf growing green and vibrant, only to die in time with no one left interested in the beauty that was once there and others that speak of the death of a loved one, the grief of leaving someone behind, and much more. Tales of abuse, anger, dreams, nightmares…there is much here that dips into the darkness of the soul. As I said, some of this is of a supernatural, or horror bent, with a substantial sprinkling of tales of angels, both those from above and those that have fallen, but I think all of us who have dealt with tragedy and hardships will find at least a few different poems here that will touch you personally.
In some spots, I tried to discern the deeper meanings of certain poems, while with others the meaning seemed more clear to me. I believe there is layers to every one of these tales and each reader has to determine for themselves what meaning they can take from them. While there is sadness and grim, harsh realities spoken of here, there is also light, and a hope that sparkles through on many pages. If you are looking for something that speaks of the darker side of reality, and also of the dreams that we try to hide from, check out this book of poems.
You can find From Beyond The Mist here: http://www.amazon.com/Poetry-Beyond-Mist-Elizabeth-LaFond/dp/1460937465/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301972541&sr=8-1
Review of Ryan Mecum’s “Zombie Haiku”
Zombie Haiku isn’t a book filled with random haiku’s about the undead. Instead, it tells the saga of a man first running from the undead, and then becoming one himself, as he relates his experiences in 5-7-5 syllable sets. I would have enjoyed just some random sentiments about zombies, as I must admit that I have created a few myself (not so great) and seen plenty of others from friends (much better) on a message board I frequent. Comical, dark, and even thought provoking haiku that are fun to read and a challenge to create.
Zombie Haiku is fun as it is, though not all of the verse is created equal. Still, it is a plenty amusing, though short. The book lasted me perhaps 45 minutes at a leisurely clip. I guess if I had a major gripe with this book, it would be that I wish it were longer, though there are some haiku gems in it that had me snickering. The author has apparently tried his hand at vampire and werewolf haiku as well, which certainly might be fun, but as a zombie fan boy, this is the one I had to check out.
An entertaining little read that perhaps doesn’t give you something unique as far as the overall story, but it is told in a different and funny way.
You can check out Zombie Haiku here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Haiku-Good-Poetry-Your-Brains/dp/1600610706/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297823961&sr=8-1
Strange Tales of Horror is now on Amazon!
I just wanted to pass along that the latest anthology that I am a part of has made its way over to Amazon. As I have mentioned before, this one has a great table of contents and I am pleased that my story, VRZ, appears among its pages. This one contains short stories, flash fiction, and even some poetry. And of course, it also has one of the most wicked book covers of anything I have been associated with. I think this one is going to do very well. Click on the picture to head on over to Amazon and place your order for this one. I myself can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Review of Zombie Zak’s “Chaptered and Versed, Poetic and Cursed”
Zombie Zak is the crown prince of gore, goofiness, and grim verse. I’m not sure I can come up with a different way to describe what he does and who he is. I have seen his poems created on the spur of the moment on a forum or just somewhere on the web-he is a well known entity throughout the horror and zombie genre community as the poet of the apocalypse. Collected here are some of his more involved and intriguing poems.
Yes, much of his verse is zombie-centric, and I thoroughly enjoyed the various incarnations of One Lone Zombie, but there are other delights to be found between the pages here. I was blown away by Zak’s interpretation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, done up with each of their own poems. Even with that said, Zak slips in humor and a presentation that gives you reason to smile now and then. I particularly enjoyed ‘Be Brightness’, which, if you read the back cover of this book, is a cornerstone of this cookie-loving zombie madman.
I am no poetry expert. I have read my share and can be touched and moved by it, most certainly, but it is not a staple of my existence. So take that as a measure of my ability to judge a book filled with horror poetry, but I did enjoy this too brief book immensely for its rapid pace, quick wit, and inspired verse. Zak has talent, could easily grow broodingly philosophical with his words, but he lightens it up with the occasional burst of lunacy and zombie chickens. Yes, I said zombie chickens.
I will leave this review with the zombie’s own words: Above all else, whatever you do, be true, be Brightness, be happy!
Chaptered and Versed, Poetic and Cursed can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Chaptered-Versed-Poetic-Zombie-Zak/dp/1453695672/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294886051&sr=1-1