Saturday, 28 November 2015

Next on the very special That Ghoul Ava

Ava is back with SASS! and a multitude of pop culture references; which are great to work out or memory joggers.

When she meets a tall dark stranger, with knobs on! in the park another adventure begins.

This time she is whisked off to Texas with some new and strange critters, I love the way TWB brings his own version of things to current "fictional" creatures

She also discovers a new skill as her head starts to fill with voices. This, of course, brings its own hilarity.

However, there is an underlying darkness to her situation and even through Ava thinks of herself as more the butter than the sharp knife she is great at sorting out problems that seem to surround and gravitate towards her.

Not quite left on a precipice but I was left staring down the mountain of a cliff-hanger; I am thankful I have the next instalment to hand.

The flashbacks to movies, songs and tv programmes are a hoot and the chapter titles are a joy all their own.

RARARARA that’s me shaking my pompoms for this brilliant series.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Bloodfellas by Jasper Bark & Mick Trimble

This is my first ever Graphic Novel and I have to say I loved it so much I am going to buy the paperback version for my shelf. The detail in the visuals is amazing.

Wonderful drawing and illustration by Mick Trimble really brought the story to life visually, allowing JB to concentrate on the very intricate, complex and well thought out story.

Papa Sangs is trying to build a gateway to Heaven so he can be…. Well what do all Mob Bosses want!

With the help of two Angels, two love struck Zombies, one scientist and a whole load of mobsters’ zombies!

All the main characters are strangely connected which comes to fruition right in the last few pages.

There is a strong undercurrent of religion in this story but it helped rather than hindered the story flow.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Dying Days 5 by Armand Rosamilia

The story starts off with a group of survivors stuck in a restaurant toilet being taunted by a group of zombies, one of those people is Mitchell, who eventually opens the door to The Lich Lord and listens to his proposal. AR is very clever in almost summing up the last four books in one little speech from this “fella”.

This continues to be a zompoc with a difference as this particular zombie keeps getting faster, more cunning, nastier and definitely smarter, not to mention shifting his appetite preferences.  The Lich Lord is expanding not only his empire but his abilities but what is his end goal?

Back in the Daytona Beach camp Veronica is working hard on keeping things running whilst loathing and doubting Jeff, so is Claude who is “promoted” to refugee coordinator; a job that sounds, from Jeff’s version, very much like the Third Reich’s ideal sorting plan. Jeff is a horrific character but totally believable, sadly.

Our “heroine” Darlene continues to recover from her horrific birth and loss. With a lot of help from an unexpected source. Her baby is not yet safe and so many factions have plans for him.

There are some really harsh deaths in this book, especially as I had started to care about them, clever writing AR but cruel.

The ending is climactic but of course leaves you wanting more, bring it on.

Initially I will be the first to admit I was very unsure of this series with its hard than diamond girls, their thongs and the sexually rampant zombies BUT AR has evolved (like his zombies) and his writing is much more articulate, eloquent, plot stuffed, character laden and all manner of other wonderful things, so yes, I am now a huge fan of these books and the author.

Dying Days 4 by Armand Rosamilia

Number four in the Dying Days saga and AR does not disappoint with his zombies becoming weirder!

Not only are ARs zombies eating and raping people now they are thinking, plotting, ambushing, arming themselves and usually more funny when they talk than most comedians.

But it’s not just humans they are hunting, some want the other “new” zombies dead too, and to rule over humankind!

Poor pregnant Darlene, her love John and his dad, Murph, are still on the run after the stilt houses were burnt to the sea.

Jeff and Russ are still side hands to the Lich Lord who has all sorts of nastiness planned but in a god like fashion. Yes, it’s “safe” living under his rule but at what cost? Blood…. For he has certainly evolved again, but into what.

Doug and Ernie (aka the Cowboy!) reminded me of Statler and Waldorf (you remember, the Muppets!), their storyline is very satisfying.

Whilst every group seems to be focused on finding Darlene and her baby, the gore, dark humour and plot lines progress really well in the rotating fashion that sees each group from differing angles.

There is one or two passages in the book that really made me want to turn veggie. AR has certainly nailed current society does to a tee in this book via the “intelligent” zombie practices, observations, plans and rants. It’s quite grotesque.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to no.5 – which is available NOW!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

A-Z of Horror (K, L & M) By Iain Rob Wright

An old man is dragged out from his burning house, but he is not thankful to the heroic firefighter. What follows on is a strange mix of “batty old man” and possible blood curse.

IRW leaves you guessing right to the very end. As dead people started piling up around the central character I did have to smirk at some of the OTT deaths. Not sure if intentional but it did make me giggle in that nervous way at the casualness of it all.

Loved the quotes at the beginning of the book. Made me want to watch Hocus Pocus again.

It’s all happy families until there is a knock at the door, IRW really did fantastically well to the build the tension in this short story.

I enjoyed this story as could not tell where it would end up, eventually the ending was fantastic! I found the family dynamic and the fathers thoughts were very realistic, if shocking.

So very tongue in cheek, an hysterical giggle from start to finish.

The joys of fan love as IRW gets a visit from an unhinged fan! Bit close to home this one for me, as I have wasted many an hour camped out in various authors shed, but never thought to order pizza – way to go Matty-Bob.

I was snorting and giggling through this story and it was really great to see IRW humorous side.

Loved the Misery reference and I’m sure there were many more that I missed as IRW is so clever in adding little bits like that, just see the blurb to Last Winter, sorry Final Winter!

Btw Matty-Bob I DO love IRW more than you, so ner!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

British Fantasy Convention 2015

So this was my first British Convention, I was really nervous and terrified that no one would speak to me or that, even worse, Graeme Reynolds who invited me would pass me by!   Wow was I wrong..... thankfully.    I walked into the hotel bar, spotted Graeme and was instantly given a HUGE hug and he handed me a signed copy of High Moor 3 (more on that later!), and that's basically how the convention went for me.   A bit of terror, huge hugs, the bar and lots of books.

The first panel was The World As We Know It (Edward Cox, Jan Edwards, Peter McLean, Al Robertson & Sue Tingey with Penny Reeve as moderator).   

Unfortunately I was unable to hear most of it due to the microphones either not working or the guests not realising you needed to actually lift them up. It was a shame not to have heard it as the panel were clearly having a laugh at something! 

The joy of learning about new authors and seeing my favourites in the flesh is hard to describe. Whilst I want to worship them and lick their toes I do enjoy finding out that they are human and not something to be worshipped making me much more loyal.     

The panel itself was very illuminating, Edward Cox has some very interesting concepts and Al Robertson took getting on board a plane to new levels of sci-fi; basically showing that daily life is actually magic.    

I loved hearing how they write about elements/characters/storylines and how they develop them.  Of course mythical critters, folklore and mutually assured dragons is how we are going to achieve World Peace, so glad I found that out.

The second panel I attended was Chills, Shocks & Empty Bladders: Writing “The Fear” :the amazing Ramsey Campbell did not overshadow the other guests (Neil Buchanan, Sara Townsend, Simon Bestwick & Lynda Rucker with Emma Audsley as moderator) in the slightest, he merely proved what an awesome gravitational force he is and what a total gentleman.   I really liked the smaller, more intimate, venue room.   

The one comment that really struck me was that horror is cathartic, for me that was a revelation. Having had this phrase pop into my head several times now I can fully appreciate how horror saved my sanity from an early age and has stayed with me as the one constant in my life; whatever monster was in those pages I could deal with, I could escape from; it made the real  monsters in my life less scary, that holds true today.   

It did make me snigger that they all confessed to being scaredy cats and who knew that Rupert the Bear could be so terrifying! But then again Worzel Gummidge scared the poop out of me as a kid; what normal person takes their head off!

After this I was dragged off for one of the worst meals of my life in the hotels brasserie, for some reason they had decided to reduce their normally lovely menu to three choices that did not appeal in the reading, ordering or eating of them. I have seen more fish (in my seafood pie) in an empty anchovy can and the salad looked like it had just had CPR. Forget extra drinks or even the offers of pudding as the waiters chose to ignore us after plonking the plates down.     I suppose we should count ourselves lucky we got to sit down at all really as the first attempt at arranging a table was met with disgusted looks by the head waiter and a flat refusal to sit eight of us together despite an empty restaurant, when two of us went back and asked for two tables of four suddenly all was well, perhaps dragging them together is what then got us the shoddy table service.

However, this experience may have blotted the day, it did not ruin it as I was far too excited and was happily now following my new friends off to my first “reading” with Chris Barnes and Matt Shaw; a fabulous story was narrated in that beautiful Scottish accent, although I feel I have now marked my card by telling my new friends that his version of the horrifying Connie in the High Moor series will forever only bring Mrs Doubtfire to mind post enjoying the audio version.

The real and very gorgeous boys.....

As we sped into the evening I continued to stalk my new convention buddies (Carrie & Neil) into the Conference Theatre for The Atrocity Exhibition, not sure what I was expecting but an hilarious game show was not it, but I was delighted with an hours’ worth of giggles and interesting non facts. Wonderfully hosted by Donna Scott who kept forgetting her own team names (Mark West & Kim Larkin-Smith vs Gareth L. Powell & Emma Newman) but did keep those naughty people in check although giggling deliciously at their often bonkers answers did provide me with a few more smirking moments.  I think the highlights for me where the face eating, murder beavers and button holes!

The next reading was by Carrie Buchanan who captivated me with her breathy, heartfelt reading of her brothers Road to Palladium; it was no surprise then to find out she is the voice of Stormblade Productions.

After deciding that the Karaoke was not my thing I headed back into the reading room armed with a fresh drink to be delighted and horrified by further readings; Will MacMillian Jones was so kind as to give me an almost private reading and then remembered me the next day whilst I was trolling the Dealer Room (he did convince me to buy a 1st Edition of one of his YA books for my nieces xmas present!).   Other delights were Terry Newman, Simon Bestwick, Marion Pitman, Michael Millar and the joyful Craig Saunders.   Poor Craig, after the reading I managed to trap him (on a chair) against the wall, in the bar, with a bribe of a Guinness whilst I picked his brain on life, the Universe and everything.

I went to bed at the reasonable hour of 2.30am, I understand that others stayed up until 4am!

Up with the lark like a kiddo on xmas day, I ran down to breakfast and managed to snag one of my favourite authors (Graeme Reynolds of the Highmoor trilogy) all to myself!   It was a real pleasure moment as I gazed at him over a plate of sausages, eggs and beans; I think I managed to speak coherently but then again he could have just been hung over and nodding in all the right places, or trying to keep his brains from falling out; and here is proof of my beautiful signed book.

and in return I was able to present him with a little gift too! (lets hope he doesn't find the little microphone and satnav receiver inside!)

The next panel was Monster Mash-Up: Were-vamp-zomb-zilla….With Wings! (Carrie Buchanan, Cassandra Khaw, Tim Lebbon, Will MacMilliam Jones & Adele Wearing – Jon Oliver was moderator).  

Do you ever get that feeling that someone is pointing at you? In a moment of terror at being singled out I became aware (like that scene from Jaws on the beach) that the lovely Adele Wearing, who I now know is from Fox Spirit Books, was pointing about my multitude of foxy items hanging off my bag, this of course endeared me to her for the rest of the panel and I nearly ignored what all the others were saying!    

The main comments and thoughts that stood out for me were the idea that monsters are just humanity's faults made into characters; how these artists brought those concepts to life differed enormously.    The other interesting comment was the “new” Asian monsters that are creeping into modern, Western horror; there was a word of caution from Ms Khaw that these critters should be given the respect they deserve from their origins in folklore and not bastardised too much.  It almost felt like a threat (wink) but it gave me the chills.    Some members of the panel, who shall remain nameless, forgot they were there when asked a question, so engrossed in the discussion were they; fully understandable!

12pm and a book launch for Adam Neville's Lost Girl was pretty impressive with a queue almost out the door for signings.   However, our little gang was huddled in the corner, after some more anonymous fan-girling (not me this time!) as we waited  to watch Jim Mcleod of  Ginger Nuts of Horror fame to be floored by a personalised book presentation; enjoy THAT post on his blog.

At 2pm the next panel was being seated and then unseated due to a fire alarm, there are rumours as to who set it off, my money is on the kitchen staff and those burnt to cinder repulsive burgers.   The panel was Turn Up The Volumes: Marketing & Selling Books (Sophie Calder, Jo Fletcher, Graeme Reynolds, Matt Shaw & Danie Ware with Adele Wearing as moderator).    I thought Adele did very well in not allowing any one person to overshadow the others PoV and both Graeme and Matt did admirably in showing that Indie Publishing is not only established but knocking socks of Traditional Publishing.   My only thought really as I was nodding away and rolling my eyes at some of the name dropping was: Where were the readers? The bloggers? The reviewers? Now I know I am biased but it’s often the word of mouth reviews or blog posts that get me interested in buying a book. That group of marketing should have had a voice, IMO.

I then had a mooch around the Dealers Room and again thought the organisers had missed the opportunity to provide tables for artists other than publishers; cover artists, audio, merchandise, films etc

At 5pm I was gobsmacked to see this little fella in huge boots jump on a table and start reading; apparently I had stumbled into the launch of GodBomb! by Kit Power. Later his reading at 23.45 was so very well delivered, not only was the story gripping and heart wrenching but his performance of the story made the whole audience jump in certain places and oooh in others, I asked him when it would be available on Amazon as I was very impressed with his launch reading too, only to be presented with a signed copy. Go me!   

Whilst the downside of the whole convention was the horrifying crap they dished up as food and then charged you exorbitantly for, the saving grace was breakfast.     Thankfully I was able to join a super cool gang of people for a very nice Indian meal and ended up giving a lift to the super cool Kit Power and his UBERcool parents! His dad was Twitteratting about the #Fcon2015  whilst waiting for his Cobra! 

Post poppadums and naan breads we dashed back for the disco, only taking time out for  another reading.   Neil Buchanan is such a calm, gentle and quiet man until you hear him read his work. It is not an over exaggeration to say that at his reading the originally rowdy (yes drunk, it was a theme) crowd were silent from about two lines in, all the way through to the end when for about 5 seconds we all sat there in shock (and me in awe) until a lady who was waiting to read next suddenly piped up with “that was disgusting”, followed by Graeme Reynolds croaking out “what is wrong with you?” which kind of summed it really.      I really fan girled about ten mins later when, walking down the corridor to the bar, Neil threw his script in the bin and I (nearly) screamed “what are you doing!” only to fish it out again and clutch it to my chest!  It’s now proudly sat on my shelf, my only regret is not getting him to sign in, but it does have his sweat on (sorry too much information huh). 

Whilst many of the readers were exceptionally nervous prior to their readings, without fail NONE of them let their work down.

Back to the Disco, without a shadow of a doubt the most fun time!    The only shame was it finishing at 1am?? Shocking! We are not 12 year olds at a school disco… this was hard core partying!   And by that I mean Hey Micky (which will stay with me forever, thank you Mark West) followed by Fire Starter, The Macarena, Dancing Queen and Ace of Spaces (or Nasal Spray as was whispered in my ear by Neil Buchanan; giving me a squirmy eye twitching moment – see back to fan girl moment).   Not only was this eclectic mix enjoyed by all I was astounded to see that the dance floor was 8/2 men/women…….. yup!   Although I did fear for some of their, and my, safety at some points; especially the guy who thought it was in a hybrid mix of Riverdance and Ring, a Ring of Roses!  When the lights came on we all skulked away to have much more chatting in the bar and I finally gave into sleep at 3am.

A greasy breakfast was most welcome on the Sunday morning as I seemed to have soaked up someone else’s hangover (I don’t drink) but managed to stumble to my final panel Sounds Like A Story: the science and psychology of audio fiction with the silky sexiness known as Chris Barnes (James Goss & Emma Newman with Alasdair Stuart as moderator – Del Larkin-Smith was off getting told he was organising 2016 Fcon!). 

This panel was probably the most informative of all the panels for me as it opened up a whole new world not least the amusing podcast Tea & Jeopardy by Emma Newman, a nice cup of tea, some cheeky cake, some brilliant interviews and a bit of jeopardy from the barking mad Butler Latimer.  

I am now making my way through Pseudopod too.      One of the funniest things I did jot down and then search out on YouTube was  ID4UK; basically it's the  Independence Day film with THE Sir Patrick Moore, it's a must listen and I guarantee you will giggle!

Thoughts overall - I LOVED IT!!  Have already booked my ticket for next year where I can join forces with my new Con bestie (Carrie) and terrorise Jim McLeod's knees...... 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Influenza: Strain "Z" By Matt Shaw

Firstly, I am applying for some Matt Shaw sweat!

A very well written story of a man suffering with man flu’ and his slow degeneration into ITU care.

It’s fast paced and has a sense of OMG here it comes….

I laughed out loud at the Queen obsession.

Really thought the ending was brilliant and the authors note gave it some substance and basis.

Loved MS rational behind not giving the flu jab! Bit Solent Green in though!

Judging by the last two MS books I have read his talent seems to have exploded since I read the “Peter Chronicles” which I initially loved and then hated when they ended up not making any sense to me, but that’s a personal opinion.

I am now a Matt Shaw convert, but have yet to read any of his more cautionary “Black Cover” books…..

Saturday, 17 October 2015

DEAD: Blood & Betrayal (bk 11) by TW Brown

So we are at Book 11 the penultimate one.... sob, but also good as think TWB has proven that the zompoc is not all a glorified camping trip with a few movie style zombies and that everything will go back to normal in a few days, weeks, years or decades. He paints a sad but probably true vision of what humanity would become given the nudge.

Yet again TWB “treats” the reader to another spectacular ride aboard the zompoc train. 

The wonderful circular way of writing is back, alternating between storylines really gives a sense of forward motion, tension and a great literary vehicle for leaving you on a knife edge.

Catching up with all the groups by circling another year in the life of… but whilst its lovely to see some groups flourish, characters settle, grow and move forward some are still struggling as humans prove that we are as a species jerks 

I was glad to see the new character Adam (hunter) still going strong but also having some doubts. I hope he manages to find some peace. 
I totally loved this book and as usual finished it within a few hours as could not put it down, when will I learn to read only a few chapters a day – with TWB, never.  But now at least I can get my nose stuck into Ava (that ghoul!) who does a cameo at the end of the book.

As usual I have a few comments and whinges! (TWB would be disappointed if I didn’t!);

How come no one seems to die of routine infections? Flu, a cut, child birth, ear ache, blocked bowels, appendicitis? With no antibiotics around anymore all these vicious outside trips must warrant a few cuts and grazes? No rapid animals?

What happened to all the cats?   What happened to the Egypt storyline?  What about the zombie children! 

Also I’m sure the zombies are like electricity and follow the easiest path but do you have to keep repeating it, sorry, a gripe!

on a final note that cover is the BEST yet!!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Mouthful of Carrion by Ian Woodhead

The world has fallen to a zompoc, but not like any zombies you have read before.

At least not Colin, a strange Zombie/Human hybrid but whilst the hunger gathers force his humanity remains.

Told in the first person it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for Colin even though he does some amazingly gross things!

IW does an amazing job to keep you teetering on the edge of disgusted, full of sympathy and giggling; but that is a unique skill he has as a writer.

I am pleased to see this is a trilogy as looking forward to seeing if Colin can find his sister and so much more, but can’t give the game away with spoilers – you must grab this book and read for yourself!

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Bite Size: A Collection of Short Stories by Matt Shaw

I really enjoyed the author’s preamble comments and agreed with him on most statements.

Let It Go: A story full of tension and love. I liked the build-up even if I could sense what was coming as a conclusion. The characters felt real and I enjoyed the ghostly element. Creating such deep characters in so few pages takes a great skill and MS clearly has it.

Reminiscing: OMG!! I had to stop reading for a while as this story broke my heart. Well done MS on such a great emotionally evoking tale. I knew this family so well that I truly grieved at the end.

Next-Gen: Mick must every new tech gadget out there; I guess the moral of the story is – be careful what you wish for! A brilliantly imaginative story, I can’t say anything without giving the twist away! I really got a sense of fear from this story.

Laughter in the Night: Whilst well written the subject matter really upset me but overall it was a great idea, MS clearly hit all my fear buttons.

Slither: A nightmare that comes to life, just ewwwww!! And I like snakes!

Fun and Games: Games maybe, but not fun! Well, MS finally delivers on his promise of grossness to the extreme, whilst seemingly only mild torture MS tells it in such fine detail as to make me gag and rub my skin. 

Date Night: Set out at a screen play with a little spiel from MS as to why. Great little twist at the end, yup it certainly has my vote!

Thoroughly enjoyed this collection as it seems to have given me pretty much a whole gambit of emotions and eeek factors, I am looking forward to getting stuck into some of MS longer work, although I too enjoy the short story format, not many have the true skill to pull it off.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

A-Z of Horror (H, I & J) by IR Wright

Barbara is having a day from Hell, we all have those days when nothing goes right and everything that can go wrong does, but not quite as bad as Barbara’s ends up.

Barbara it seems is a “brand” snob, only the best for her and she cannot abide those that don’t work hard for it, consequently she looks down on those around her.

A misfortunate, violent accident and she makes a “wrong” decision and her day only get worse than the broken heel she suffered earlier.

The ending left me a bit flat but a reread, as is always advised with the complex works of IRW (you will miss something!), I saw it’s truly goosebumpy potential.

H is for Hell

Peter wakes up cold and confused, but Dr Faraday is on hand to soothe his worries and warm him up with a special blue drink. Post cryostasis he needs all the help he can get, if only he could remember what was going on.

Dr Faraday needs Peter to help with his work, the search for a cure to the Final Flu; the bug that has killed off 99% of the planets human population.

The confusion Peter feels is clearly evident and IRW is sparing in his details to keep that confusion going with the reader.

Loved the little link back to other story characters.

The BBC (as usual) got some of their virology/apocalypse/survival information wrong!

I liked the overall story, it was like a mini apocalypse, a nice ambiguous ending but I felt with more time this “story” would have fallen apart or come under more scrutiny from us canny zombie fiends.

Hehehe, friends on a boat in the middle of the sea, but something has awoken in the deep blue ocean….I can feel a Dada, Dada…dadadadada coming on as I read that introduction.
What came next was not so funny.

Conrad has a luxury yacht, of course he does he is Banker and he has invited his no.1 investor, his wife and her friend on a day out in the Gulf of Mexico.

All is going well with sun, sea, sex and frivolity when the ocean starts to churn and rock the loved up boat.  Really enjoyed the Bmovie girly who decided to take a swim straight after the all the churning sea turmoil!

Something with very big jaws and huge teeth has definitely awoken in the deep and is coming up for lunch.

I loved how this was so cliché but also quite terrifying, it’s nice to see that 30+ years on Jaws still haunts me and I can’t go in the sea past my knees, thanks IRW for reminding me.

The characters are well defined and I really cared about one couple in particular so had a routed investment in them surviving.  Brilliantly clean writing as always with IRW.