Review of Rebecca Besser’s “Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death”
Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death is a compendium of grim short stories, each with their own interpretation of the title of this work. No one is safe here, with a rogue’s gallery of villains that range from the tragic to the demonic that all lust for blood, flesh, and the demise of all who cross their paths.
I read the paperback version of the book, which note that there are 4 bonus tales vs. the electronic version. I will provide a brief synopsis of each tale without providing any spoilers.
Deadly Mistakes tells the tragic tale of a man out for revenge after a clerical error at a law office that lets a murdering monster free to slaughter his wife.
Turn of Events turns the tables on the traditional sad tale of domestic violence.
Stalkers Beware provides some new ideas of how to deal with all those pesky groupies if you are a rock star.
Hope of a Future takes a look at a bleak apocalyptic future where hoping for even the most simple things can make things even more grim.
Game Gone Wrong mixes science fiction with the very prevalent fear of the government watching your every move, and doing whatever it takes to find out what you know.
Mystery Meat is a simple tale of a meat packing facility trying to find out where several bins of prime cuts of meat came from that no one knows about…with morbid results.
Father’s Revenge is a succinct, blunt tale of a father’s revenge when his wife betrays him, as seen through the eyes of his daughter.
Innocent Blood starts out much like the previous tale, but with the desire for revenge going dreadfully wrong.
On Account of Bacon speaks of how unspeakable tragedies can occur for the most innocuous reasons…or in this case, thanks to a delicious breakfast meat.
Evil Mountain asks the question ‘what do you get when a werewolf, vampire, witch, zombie, and dragon walk into a poor, innocent villager’s hut?’ Nothing pleasant, I can tell you that much.
The Heart of Heroism tells the tragic tale of Billy Jack, a mentally handicapped man-child who simply wants to be a superhero and gets his chance when the zombie apocalypse starts up in the tenement he lives in with his overbearing father.
Historical Significance is a traditional ghost tale with a demonic twist.
Memories starts out asking the question ‘Have you ever heard a rabbit scream?’ and goes deeper down the rabbit hole from there.
Overall, this set of macabre tales are solidly written, though some are stronger and more compelling than others. Each share a very fatalistic perspective, though they range from the gore splattered to the sinister. Hope of a Future, Innocent Blood, Evil Mountain, and The Heart of Heroism were my favorites of the lot, while a couple of the very short tales didn’t do it for me, like Turn of Events and Father’s Revenge. When the author works with more than a page or two, she is able to craft characters that are real, vivid, and accessible.
Twisted Pathways of Murder & Death can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Pathways-Murder-Rebecca-Besser/dp/0615858163/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401418967&sr=8-2&keywords=twisted+pathways+of+murder+%26+death (paperback) and here: http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Pathways-Murder-Rebecca-Besser-ebook/dp/B00E1LPQZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401418967&sr=8-1&keywords=twisted+pathways+of+murder+%26+death (kindle).
Review of Timothy Long’s “At the Behest of the Dead”
Phineas Cavanaugh is a hack Necromancer living near Seattle who scrapes by tracking down lost souls or by occasionally helping the police out with a murder investigation. He left his guild pretty much in shame a few years back and has had a hard knock life ever since. Things start to get interesting when he is hired to seek out the lost soul of an elderly woman’s dead husband and a demon tries to devour him in a park while on the job. At the same time the police call upon his services to track down a vicious shape shifter who seems to know Phineas and might just be hunting him as well.
Things get worse from there as Phineas’s old mentor is attacked and brutally murdered at his guild and he is called upon to return to his old stomping grounds to figure out what has happened by attempting to speak to his departed friend’s soul. That is when all hell breaks loose, literally. Phineas is thrust into a mystery where old enemies and friends are drawn into the fray with him smack dab in the middle. He has to figure out what is going on and what part he is supposed to play before demons and the dead alike tear their way into our plane of existence and destroy everything that Phineas cares about.
At The Behest Of The Dead is told in first person and one can’t help but be reminded of noir detective potboilers with its urban sensibilities and snarky attitude. Phineas is a self-effacing schlub with a good heart even if he does work with the dead and rubs elbows with demons and other questionable sorts. It has a bit of Simon Green’s Nightside going for it, as well as Glenn Cook’s Garrett Files. Urban fantasy with as much irreverence as mystery, with a bit of romance tossed in for good measure. And Phineas, like other hard luck P.I-types, seems to attract the attention of the ladies despite perhaps looking and acting like he has been ridden hard and put away wet most of the time. Even though he has rough edges (or maybe because he does), Phineas is a likable sort, making his tale easy to read and entertaining.
Tim Long stretches himself beyond the zombie apocalyptic genre he normally haunts with this one, although he gives a winking nod to his roots with a few zombies showing up, though they are not anywhere near being a critical part of the telling of this tale. He has crafted an interesting world with the magical elements fantasy fans will appreciate while putting his own slant on things, making this world his and his alone. The characters are interesting and diverse enough to make them stand out and I can imagine some pretty intriguing adventures in their future. A fun read that has excellent potential as the start of an enjoyable series of books.
At The Behest Of The Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EZCXA9M/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Permuted Press Kindle E-Book Sale!
Well it is Friday the 13th and while many folks consider that bad luck, I think it is a great day…and the start of a great weekend. Especially for fans of great apocalyptic fiction. Permuted Press, my publisher, has decided that this would be a great weekend to promote the heck out of virtually every one of the books they offer on Kindle by having a sale that runs through Sunday. So go on over to Amazon to check things out. Just click on the picture below and you’ll be sent to the list of books for sale, including all three books in my trilogy: Comes The Dark, Into The Dark, and Beyond The Dark. Plenty of other fantastic books can be found on sale, including plenty of ones that I’ve reviewed here. So here is your chance to pick them up for either 99 cents or $2.99 when they’re regularly around $7.99. So check it out, and as they say over at Permuted, Enjoy the Apocalypse!
Review of Patrick James Ryan’s “Blood Verse”
Blood Verse is Patrick James Ryan’s first published work and is an anthology of horror tales interspersed with poems. Each poem follows the same format of rhyming couplets-there is no free verse poems in the mix.
As is usually the case with most anthologies, you reach into the goody bag and aren’t sure what you will get each time, especially when there is no set theme. That is the case here. Certainly, each tale has a horror bent to it, but they range from the supernatural to the more ‘regular’ every day type tales of serial killers and grim misfortune. Kudos to the author for giving the reader a diverse set of shorts and poems with some unexpected and entertaining twists.
The good: the author does a solid job of backing up his stories with decent research that allows him to provide us with a book rich in diverse locales and plotlines. It’s clear that effort was put forth to give each tale some heft and a solid background that makes them feel more real. Though not every story has that ‘blink with surprise’ type ending that readers often expect, when they do happen here many were quite satisfying and enjoyable. There are some genuinely entertaining stories on these pages that I enjoyed a great deal. I know the term ‘fun’ is not always associated with horror, but I had fun reading them.
The challenging: I’m not going to say the ‘bad’ because that wouldn’t be fair to the author, because while some of the shorts found here didn’t resonate with me, they were still solidly crafted. I could see the potential in most of them and I admire the author for putting together a very diverse compendium of tales and taking some risks here and there. They just didn’t all hit the mark for me. One of the reasons is that there is a healthy dose of tell vs. show mixed into several of the stories. It is a challenge all authors face-attempting to avoid making the yarn they are spinning feel more like a newspaper account of what is happening. They instead want to give the reader a feeling of immersion, as if they are experiencing everything alongside the characters. The author does accomplish that immersion in many cases, but in some instances it wasn’t there. There were also some typos throughout, noticeable but not a major distraction.
While some stories just didn’t click for me (Pain and the Boxer, Desert Death, Hair as examples) others were very entertaining (Bus Stop, Road Rage Bigot, Walking the Dog, Elevator…among others) and that is what reading an anthology is all about: finding those gold nuggets that make reading a mix of different tales well worth the time, which Blood Verse succeeded in doing for me. Chances are, if you are a horror fan, you will find a few solid nuggets in this book as well.
Blood Verse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0988659034/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Review of Michael S. Gardners “Death in the Times of Madness”
Death In The Times of Madness is Michael S Gardner’s compendium of short stories, many of which have a zombie slant to them, as that is his first passion in writing. He’s also published a novella and novel that are zombie-centric too. There are some stories here that diverge from that path though, giving the reader a bit of diversity, though the author ‘sticks with the scrip’ and doesn’t move too far off from what a zombie fan will enjoy. From tales of personal woe to stories that are far grander is scope, the author explores some interesting topics and provides the reader with some moments that really resonate.
Of course, not every story packs the same punch and not all of them were hits in my opinion, but overall, this collection showcases an author who has grown as a writer over the past few years, with his ability to craft characters and stories getting sharper and stronger with time. Some of the tales have no message, just provide simple entertainment, while others pack more emotional heft and lingered in my mind after their completion. Overall, this is a fun, easy-to-read collection of mostly zombie tales that shows the talents of an independent author who continues to get better with every story he writes.
Death In The Times of Madness can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1481228196/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
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 D.L. Snell and Thom Brannan’s “Pavlov’s Dogs”
Pavlov’s Dogs jumps right into things, starting out several weeks after the zombie apocalypse has gotten into full swing and most of the human race has been wiped out or turned. We are immediately introduced to a group of what looks to be werewolves as they save a couple of humans running out of time and options as the undead close in on them. At first, the reader isn’t given much more to go on about these wolves as the story flips back in time to the day the zombie attacks began, where we are introduce to Ken and Jorge, friends who work together in construction and are driving down the highway when everything rapidly falls apart all around them. There are a few more time shifts in the story as we are given a more proper introduction to the wolves and the scientists who created them. They are genetically enhanced Special Forces troops who have had microchips implanted in their brains, allowing them to transform into a human-wolf hybrid with superior combat skills, strength, and healing capabilities. The experiments on these men have been taking place on a small island off the coast and the advent of the zombie apocalypse seems like the ideal opportunity to test the ‘dogs’ under combat-like conditions when they are sent in to save the few remaining survivors on the mainland. Or so it seems.
Pavlov’s Dogs moves quickly, serving up plenty of human (and werewolf) conflict that makes the story an interesting read. Zombies don’t play as major a role as they do in most zompoc tales, but that works just fine here. We all know who the real bad guys are anyway, and in this case, we not only have human baddies but some werewolf ones as well, and they keep things intriguing from start to finish. Though this tale has plenty of dark moments, the authors keep things light with the occasional injection of welcome humor. Ken is easily the most in depth and likable character, along with his pal Jorge, who likes cracking jokes regardless of how grim the situation becomes. Some of the dogs, like Mac and Kaiser, were also well detailed and it was easy to see their human sides, even when they were in full wolf form.
If I have a criticism here, it would lay with another couple of characters. Drs. Crispin and Donovan, the two main scientists on the island, are reasonably well detailed but at the same time there seems to be hints at more depth to each of them, in particular Donovan. As an example, a significant detail about Crispin is discovered during the plot and yet it goes unexplored, even though it could have led the story down a very intriguing path. Donovan’s motivations also seem to be a bit forced. He is an interesting character, but one that I feel could have been further developed, which may have given me a better appreciation for his transformation as a character throughout the story.
Even with these minor quibbles, I enjoyed this story a great deal. The science takes a back seat to the action-we aren’t given highly detailed explanation of how or why the wolves transform and I doubt the story would have been enhanced further if we had gotten such an overview. Instead, we get to see werewolves dive into battle with zombies and with each other, which should satisfy most of the action/gore fans out there. In addition, we get to see what happens when a werewolf gets bitten by a zombie, which was something that does not disappoint. Overall, this zombie-werewolf hybrid tale is fun, unique, and definitely worth checking out.
Pavlov’s Dogs can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Pavlovs-Dogs-D-L-Snell/dp/1618680218/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340772653&sr=1-1&keywords=pavlov%27s+dogs
Review of Suzanne Robb’s “Were-Wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutations, Oh My!”
Were-Wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutations, Oh My! is a trilogy of short stories by Suzanne Robb, author of Z-Boat, a zombie novel set in the dark depths of the ocean, as well as a wide array of strange and twisty short stories with a horror and fantasy bent to them. These three stories fit right in with what the fan’s of Robb has come to expect. In “Welcome To The Future” she explores a near future filled with disastrous attempts at genetic manipulations to the human body. We get to see plenty of failings and know why the whole idea of mutation is abhorred. Along comes a teenage boy whose parents and teachers have given up on him. He has even given up on himself until a doctor provides him with a solution to all his problems that promises to make him the smartest man in the world. Naturally, things don’t go quite as planned, and all hell breaks loose. In “The Moonlight Killer” we are given a story that turns the traditional werewolf tale on its ear with man-bites-wolf repercussions. A really twisty, humorous tale with plenty of darkness to it. Finally, in “B.I.T.E.” the reader is introduced to world on the very brink of Apocalypse, with strange beasties boiling up through the ground including massive man-eating squirrels, cobra-men, and minions…lots of minions. That plus a mother and daughter who are bound and determined to stop the end of the world, no matter how dysfunctional they appear to be.
These stories have an interesting flavor that I would call Robb-ish, in that they not only give you some good scares, they also have some wicked dark humor to them that make you snicker while feeling a bit uncomfortable with the circumstances the characters are going through. These are quick, entertaining reads for those of you looking for a tidy little dose of scary fun from an up and coming author.
You can find Were-Wolves, Apocalypses, and Genetic Mutations, Oh My! here: http://www.amazon.com/Were-wolves-Apocalypses-Genetic-Mutation-ebook/dp/B006SBC2UQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1336948427&sr=1-1
Review of Monique Snyman’s “Charming Incantations: Enticed”
Not too long ago, I was approached by an author friend of mine with a request to help promote their new fantasy novel on my blog, which I did, happily. I tend to write reviews of horror novels, but I thought that since I am a big fan of fantasy as well I would also read her book, and not just promote it. So here is my review of her book, which I would say fits nicely in the realm of young adult fiction, with both fantasy elements as well as a bit of horror-with werewolves and vampires playing a prominent role.
Charming Incantations: Enticed tells the story of Lisa, a young woman whose parents were tragically killed in a fire, which thrusts her into a world she never knew existed: one with supernatural creatures that expect her to do her part as the surviving heir to the human representatives on a council that works to keep the world safe from darkness.
While the story provides a prolog explaining the alliance between the six races: human, werewolf, vampire, shape-shifter, witch, and banshee, the first chapter of this tale bypasses Lisa’s initial realization of what she must do or any revelations she has that there is an entire world that has been hidden from her. Instead, her tale begins with her knocking on the door of the meeting place of the six representatives of the six races. There she meets the five other generals, or leaders of the armies that hold back the evil known as goblins from taking over the world. One of them, Romulus, the leader of the werewolves, will take her in and protect her from danger until she can be trained to protect herself and take over her duties as a leader.
Lisa faces a great deal of challenges, not the least of which is the fact that she is falling hard for Romulus while she is trying to grasp this new world that surrounds her. She fears these supernatural races but must come to terms with them all so that she can insure that her status as protector of humanity comes to pass.
This tale is part romance and part fantasy adventure. There is magic here, and I am sure there will be passing comparisons to Twilight, but this is a tale on a far grander scale. Lisa is learning about this new world as we learn about it, and is forced into battle even though humans are deemed the weak link in the alliance. She cannot raise her own army of humans because the secrets of the other races must be kept, so the burden is even greater for her than for her counterparts. In some ways, this is a coming of age tale as well, with Lisa doing her best to find her place in a world that is scary, exciting, and quite dangerous.
This is the first book of what I believe will be a series, but this story can certainly stand on its own as a tale of a young woman coming into her own in a world filled with both dangers, delight, magic, and mayhem.
Charming Incantions: Enticed can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Charming-Incantations-Enticed-Monique-Snyman/dp/0987874721/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336631184&sr=1-1
Fellow author Suzanne Robb interviews me on her blog.
I got the chance to answer a few questions (in my normally snarky way) that fellow author, and editor, Suzanne Robb came up with for me. You may know Suzanne from her fantastic book, “Z-Boat”, or because of her numerous other short story projects. She is in the process of editing an anthology that I have a privilege of being a part of entitled “Read The End First”, which is about 24 different tales about the end of the world…one specific to each time zone. That should be coming out soon, and more details on that later. But enough about Suzanne! Check out her interview of yours truly over on her blog: http://suzannerobb.blogspot.ca/2012/04/paatrick-dorazio-his-thoughts-on.html, and check out some of Suzanne’s stories as well!
Dark Dispatches is now available on Amazon!
I’m pretty excited about a newly release anthology that one of my short stories appears in. I had the opportunity to write a story that was a bit different for me, though at the same time, still shared a bit of DNA with many of the other stories I’ve written over the years. This particular one was originally intended for another anthology, and fit the it to a T. Unfortunately, before that particular anthology got very far, it was cancelled by the publisher. I was ‘stuck’ with this story at that point, which was unfortunate, because I thought it was one of my better tales. It was my effort at writing a war story set in the future, but having some very traditional horror elements to it-a particular menace that I had never written a story about before, and was a new challenge for me. So when I heard about Static Movement producing an anthology entitled Dark Dispatches, which wanted tales of war, real or imagined, here on Earth or elsewhere, in any time period–past, present or future, I knew my story might have a second life. So I submitted my tale, entitled “One Shot, One Kill”, and George Wilhite, the editor, responded within a couple of days, snatching it up.
And now this tale has been released to Amazon, and I am asking you to check it out. I’m not sure how Static Movement works on ebooks, but the paperback version is now available. Keep an eye on the link for further information on the kindle release, and probably over on smashwords for other ebook releases.
I would ask that you consider getting a copy of this book in paperback-a slew of war stories that contain supernatural, alien, and plain old human warriors-all with compelling story lines. I have had the privilege of reading one of the other tales in this book already, by Richard Marsden, and I can tell you that it is excellent. Well worth the price of admission for these two tales alone…but there are many, many more!
So go ahead: click the picture, and head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy of Dark Dispatches. Thanks!
A slight divergence from horror into fantasy
Most folks don’t know it, but I am just as much a science fiction and fantasy fan as I am a horror aficionado. Up to this point, my attempts at writing most fantasy were well in my past, and while I plan on giving it a genuine shot down the road, I am dedicated to writing mostly horror stuff for the moment.
With that said, a friend of mine who has more of a talent for writing fantasy, and in particular, YA fantasy, is having her first book released through Knightwatch Press. But it is definitely worth noting that this YA Fantasy has horror elements as well, with vampires and werewolves playing a role in this tale. So for you horror fans who are looking for something that might be something you and your kids can read, I would check this out. I know I will be, and will hopefully have the chance to review it here soon.
Who is this friend, you ask? It is none other than Monique Snyman. Monique is a South African writer and reviewer of books, movies, and games, who runs her own website over at http://www.killeraphrodite.com/. The book, the first in a series, is entitled Charming Incantations: Enticed. Here is a description of the story:
When Lisa Richards’ parents die in a horrible accident, she never thought her life would change as drastically as it did. Not only does she have to take over the family business as being the Human Representative in a supernatural council, bound to protect the world from the common threat, but she also has to deal with falling in love with a werewolf that has a vampire best friend and try to keep herself alive long enough to defeat the goblin army.
Not sure about you, but to me that sounds like the start of a pretty wild ride! And I know that plenty of horror fans out there dig all sorts of speculative tales, so keep your eyes open for this one. Monique was kind enough to get me a copy of the cover for your viewing pleasure below. I’m sure it’ll be popping up on Amazon quite soon, among other locales, so check it out!
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
Soul Survivors Hometown Tales: Volume 1 is out!
Knight Watch Press brought together a community of writers to create stories of their hometowns and the apocalypse. Essentially, the mandate was to craft a story with one of the last living people after things fall apart or extinction event occurs. We could use pretty much any humanity annihilating excuse to see how fun, or how scary it could be under those circumstances. So my little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” takes place in Cincinnati, but the same thing could happen in any town, any city the world over. I can’t wait to get my copy of the book to check out the rest of the stories-the reviews I’ve read thus far are quite complimentary. And what’s even better is that a second volume of stories is due out early next year, with even more world toppling excitement.
So check out Soul Survivors Hometown Tales: Volume 1 over on Amazon, or where ever you can get your hot little hands on a copy! Click the picture to head on over to Amazon.
Cover revealed for upcoming KnightWatch Press anthology “Soul Survivors-Hometown Tales, Volume 1”
Yep, another anthology coming out soon that I am thrilled to be a part of…and there were so many good stories, they filled two volumes with all of them! My little story, “Love Thy Neighbor” appears within the pages of Volume 1. While I am showing the cover for Volume 1, what is really cool about Soul Survivors-Hometown Tales is that the two covers fit nicely situated next to each other, each showing one half of a face…but they are each distinct from the other. I am really proud of my very sick and disturbing story that takes place right here in Cincinnati that I wrote for this one, and I guess the publishers did as well! The premise behind the stories we were asked to write was to tell a story of the end of the world based on our own hometowns, giving it sort of a personal touch. It could be with any sort of disaster…natural, man made, supernatural…so I am positive there are some really twisted tales in both of these tomes that take advantage of some really unique potential world shattering events. So check out the artwork for the cover of the book I appear in, and I will of course be promoting this book and its partner in crime once both are released later this year (or early in 2012).
Review of Wolves of War, a Werewolf anthology
Wolves of War is an anthology of werewolf tales with war being the setting. Most of these stories hold to that, though there are a few stray pups that don’t really stick with that as the theme, though each of them have werewolves front and center as the key element to each story.
A brief overview of the different stories found on the pages within this book:
World Were II by A.P. Fuchs: Sergeant Dick Channer is at war. Not only with the enemy, but with himself as he hides out in a bunker with the half-eaten corpse of his father, a General, at his side.
The Devil’s Teardrop by David Dunwoody: A little twist on the traditional werewolf tale where the horror isn’t always manifested in a physical form.
And The Streets Will Run Red with the Blood of Bunnies by Derek J. Goodman: From the world of the author’s novel, “The Apocalypse Shift”, Mr. Goodman gives us a darkly comedic tale of werewolves and were…bunnies. Yep, bunnies.
Adrift: A Werewolf Tale by Anthony Giangregorio: A traditional werewolf tale of a bloodbath, but with the slant of it being at sea, on a ship where there is nowhere to run from the slaughter.
Once We Were…by Grayson Moran: You don’t always know who, or what, the true menace is, even if the creatures at the gate are the ones with the fangs and claws ready to tear your heart out.
The Battle After the Apocalypse by Casey Quinn: As the author states at the beginning of this tale, the enemy of my enemy is my friend…but for how long, in this story of the world after the bombs fall.
Fleeing by Rhiannon Frater: Man is not the only creature that flees the horrors of war and sometimes, it is better not to stick your nose into other people’s business.
Homecoming by Franklin E. Wales: I always thought it would be cool to explore my Italian heritage, but not if I knew what was going on in those Italian hills during WW2.
Under a Civil Moon by John Grover: The question often comes up in transformation tales…can the man ever control the beast, especially when he knows what it does is wrong? This Civil War tale explores that question.
Let Loose the Wolves of War by Timothy W. Long: What if you could become the perfect warrior? One that could travel the space lanes and release your inner-beast to lead your squad to victory time after time?
FUBAR by Alan Mendoza: American G.I.’s come across a German Bunker during WW2 with more than just dead German soldiers in it as they discover a bloodbath and some strange experiments going on.
Simon Midean by T. Patrick Rooney: A fast paced whirlwind of blood and guts tale of a werewolf that seems unstoppable, and yet, it is often times the things you least expect that bring things to a crashing halt.
Overlord by Dylan J. Morgan: Another WW2 tale, but told from the eyes of the werewolves, who care little for the follies of man but use their wars to hide their eternal battle with their arch-nemesis.
The World has Talent…To Kill by John McCuaig: On the game show circuit, the werewolves are the kings of the world when it comes to taking on all supernatural comers and laying waste to them.
Blood and Belief by Thom Brannan and Victorya: The world is at war with the werewolves, and they are killed on sight. But what if one of the soldiers in the cause had a dark secret, and knew of even darker, more dangerous secrets that would impact both human and wolf-kind alike?
Der Wulf by Tim Curran: The siege of Stalingrad turns into an even darker nightmare for a squad of German soldiers as they stumble onto a den of werewolves and face the wrath of the pack-leader.
Genetic Coding by Lee Pletzers: Having the natural instincts of a wolf, as well as its strength and endurance, make for a very tough terrorist in this romp through a jungle filled with strange mutations.
As is the case with every anthology, not all stories hit the mark for me, though overall, this was an entertaining tome of short tales of werewolves doing what werewolves do best: terrifying while tearing the hearts out of their prey. Though there were several really entertaining stories in this book, the one that I would have to say was my favorite was “Der Wulf.” The author takes a scene out of nightmare with the siege of Stalingrad, something horrifying enough on its own, and ups the ante with the addition of creatures out of myth that turn jaded soldiers who have pretty much accepted that they are doomed and fills their hearts with the realization that there are fates far worse than death.
If you are fond of werewolves, this one is well worth checking out.
You can find Wolves of War here: http://www.amazon.com/Wolves-War-Werewolves-Eric-Brown/dp/1449573665/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310327912&sr=8-1
Review of Ben Langinrichs’ “Savage Fire”
The best way I can describe this portfolio of short tales is to say that it is an eclectic blend of genres, themes, and ideas. Don’t expect to be granted a full explanation of some of the stories. You will be required to come up with your idea of any meaning that can be interpreted from some of them, while others are written in a more traditional manner than makes the purpose of the author more clear. Being challenged is a good thing here, with stories that maybe don’t go down a straight path.
There are definitely some horror tales in this one, including the first story that this collection takes its name from, Savage Fire, as well as An Island Never Cries, but there is also some bizarro tossed in for good measure, an old fashion detective tale, a western, a modern variant on the story of Medusa, a gut wrenching tale of suicide, a twist on the tale of The Little Mermaid that I found to be an amusing deviation from the norm, and even a couple of more or less traditional werewolf tales that were entertaining as well.
This anthology is probably best described as a compilation of the author’s work, with no running theme that ties the stories together, except for the author’s natural ability to craft a interesting tale. Not every story resonated with me, as is typically the case of such a diverse compendium. I felt that a few stories could have been fleshed out a bit more and turned into something more intriguing, but overall, this anthology shows some impressive range. This is an easy read and brought a smile to my face in more than one instance…sometimes one of pleasure, sometimes a smile that cropped up because I appreciated the author’s devious nature.
A good anthology, and a worthwhile read.
Savage Fire can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Savage-Fire-ebook/dp/B0053IX52O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308418967&sr=8-1
Review of Rhonny Reaper’s Creature Features
It is always worth checking out an anthology done for charity, even if it perhaps isn’t something up your alley. Fortunately for me, I dig horror and so it wasn’t so difficult for me to pick this up on the kindle not long after it was published a few months back. I’ve been to Rhonny’s website, Dollar Bin Horror, and had heard tell of this anthology over on Facebook as well. So I thought I would see what assortment of stories she had put together for this one.
What we have are fifteen stories written primarily by newer authors, though a few tales have been penned by more established writers.
Here is a brief overview of the stories and the authors:
indiviDUALITY by Dan Dillard tells the tale of a jaded serial killer who is gains insight on life and death from a potential victim
Tuesdays Suck by Jesse Gable dips into the worlds of the narrator, who apparently always has the worst, and most twisted, adventures on Tuesdays
A Mother’s Love by Rhonda E. Kachur tells of a mother’s heartbreak and quest for revenge
The Devils of Logan Square by Scott and Sean Kenemore is about a man has a transplant and receives a new heart with a dark past
ZOMBIE WORLD by Calvin A.L. Miller II shows the world zombies in their natural habitat-locked up in a park that people are charged admittance to so they can check them out safely behind walls…sort of
The Conqueror Worm by JZ Murdock tells of the misadventures of Jimmy and James, two boys who like exploring and dig up something very strange in the side yard
The Station by David Naughton-Shires takes us on train ride to destiny
Radiant by R.D. Penning gives us old-fashion creature feature scares with some deep dwelling lizard who rises up from the depths to find a new food source during a flood
Vigor After Death by Lyle Perez-Tinics provides his slant on zombie patient zero
The 1207 to Stoningham by Erik Polk is about another train ride to destiny, but this one is going in a different direction entirely
How Much Do I Love Thee by Cinsearae S. tells a tale of love, loneliness, and how far someone would go to get one while ridding the world of the other
Christmas Wishes by Chris Saunders is a surprisingly touching tale of zombies at Christmas, and the wishes we all have for happiness
The Ugly Side of Pretty by Petra Ylva Steele is a parable of true beauty, anger, and unfettered jealousy
Stranded in the Storm by Sean Thompson is a good old werewolf tale in its rawest form
Beasts of the Shadows by Holly K. Wood takes the zombie apocalypse one step further along the evolutionary trail
Overall, this is a solid anthology with a diverse group of stories for a variety of horror tastes. As is the case with almost every anthology of this sort, some of the stories didn’t resonate quite as much for me as some of the others, and it was easy to see that a few of the efforts were the first published tales of some of the authors. I’m not sure that is criticism as much as it is pointing out that it will be interesting to see how those authors mature and come forward with even better work as time goes on. There was, without a doubt, a lot of enthusiasm and some really creative ideas mixed in with this bunch, and it was certainly fun to read. If I have to pick out one story that resonated with me the most, it would have to be Christmas Wishes by Chris Saunders. I have read my share of touching zombie stories, but almost without exception, it isn’t the zombies that lend themselves to the emotional tenor of those tales. Chris was able to make me care about a little zombie girl and her brothers, which is pretty tough to pull off.
Definitely an entertaining anthology, and worth checking out if you like your horror in bite-sized pieces.
You can find Rhonny Reaper’s Creature Features here: http://www.amazon.com/Rhonny-Reapers-Creature-Features-Anthology/dp/1936809060/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1306765299&sr=1-1
Coming soon…I hope…well, whenever it does, I think you will crack up at it!
I wanted to post the cover of an anthology that I am proud to have a story in. The challenge with the premise of this antho was to use two different monster archetypes and mash them up and make it into a comedy story about them. It is entitled Groanology: Amusing Monster Mash-Ups Unleashed!
My short story, “Hell in the Family” will appear on its pages. Shocking tidbit about it: there are NO zombies in this one! So you see, I can actually write a horror tale without the undead in it. But of course, there have been others I’ve written. But of course, by now, you all know I love writing about the undead buggers, heh.
Anyway, here is the cover, and I think it will give you a great idea of how amusing this book will end up being. More details to come as the book gets closer to release.
HorrorHound Indianapolis 2011 review
This past weekend, I took part in HorrorHound Indianapolis. Like the event in Cincinnati, it is three days of organized chaos, with tons of horror fans running around in costumes and makeup checking out vendor booths and getting autographs from some of the more famous (and infamous) stars of the horror genre. This was their tenth anniversary show and it was jam packed all weekend long. I got to sit between Tony Schaab of G.O.R.E. Score fame and Dr. Pus’s (aka The Library of the Living Dead) table, which had Doc, Michelle Linhart, and Rich Dalzotto manning the stations. Also in attendance from the Library of the Living Dead crew were Rob and Laura Best. We got to see plenty of folks we know from the facebook and the industry, which was a blast, including the folks from Night of the Living Podcast, who were kind enough to post a review of Into The Dark on one of their recent episodes after reviewing Comes The Dark after HorrorHound Cincinnati back in November.
I sold a few books, got to talk about the third book of my trilogy, Beyond The Dark, hung out with some great folks, and took a few pictures of the event. This was truly a great con and a lot of fun. I definitely hope I have the opportunity to attend next year as well!
Here are a few of the pics I took at the show. Forgive the blur-they were taken with my cellphone camera.
Tony Schaab and his brother-in-law Tom, who is also the graphic designer for the covers of his G.O.R.E. Score books.
Dr. Pus, my publisher, sitting alongside Michelle Linhart and Rich Dalzotto (sorry you can’t see much of them!)
Just a sample of one of the more wild costumes at HorrorHound this year.
In this picture is the famous “Kitty Zombie”, who has his back to the camera. He is the one with the goggles, armor, and the bald head. He is a pretty remarkable character, and funny as hell without saying a single intelligible word.
Well, that’s about it for now. The rest of the pictures I took were sort of blurry or didn’t show anything specifically of interest. Again, the convention was a lot of fun, and I only wish I could attend more of them after the fun I’ve had at the one in Indy as well as Cinci.
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!
Strange Tales of Horror is now available on Createspace!
NorGus’s first anthology, which I have my story entitled VRZ, is now available via Createspace, and should be on Amazon within the next couple of weeks. A great lineup of authors and a pretty wild table of contents for this sucker. Click on the picture below to go to the link on Createspace!