Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Even Hell has standards: Wrath by Chantal Noordeloos

The beginning of this short story is like a slap in the face with a bloody spiked boot. 

There is brutality and the suggestions of much worse, Fatima has a sad life that is fraught with suffering.

Eventually she is “reborn” in Hell and sent to her judgement, her choice is a unique and painful one, but strangely satisfying to me as a reader.

CN writes with such extreme honesty about some difficult subjects and brings a no holds barred spotlight on to some very current realities of women living in various part of the world today.

I found Fatima to be a beautiful character that never lost sight of her inner wrath or the justice that would bring her. 

The descriptions of Hell and Lucifer were captivating, CN’s vivid writing giving pure, clean mental images.

I love this series.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

ready DEAD: End by TW Brown

The authors note followed by the mega fan comments were enough to make me cry; so I left this book for another two weeks. This is the END.

Having invested a few years in this series I have thus far, lost friends, disagreed with the author, cried, laughed, been disgusted, been horrified but always been drawn back to continue the journey, only now it’s finally, really, truly coming to an END.

Looking back, is it the writing style that I have enjoyed? The world TWB has foretold? The vivid characters? After all, I still have DEAD: “in your town” series; so lots more zombies, great characters and yucky moments. I also have That Ghoul Ava, Zomblog and the other many books that TWB has planned to enjoy.   

So what makes me so sad about the end of this book series?  I suppose I don’t want to say a final goodbye to Thalia, Billy, Jody, Catie, Dr Zahn and all the other multitude of characters that TWB has brought into my life (even the personally irritating Juan!).

Not all the stories or people have panned out as I wished they would. Catie really annoyed me, I’m not so sure Kevin would have been proud of her methods but I did like her ending. 

Thalia, sigh, I have loved this child, and been privileged to watch her grow up, so letting her go and seeing what happened to her made me cry. 

As for crying, I did lots of that in this book. Juan, Jody, Billy; saying farewell in various ways, some fizzled out, some got the happy ending and some got gruesome take outs; TWB did not shy away in making anyone safe or anything unimaginable.

As for my name sake, well, a huge lump came to my throat for her ending with the gorgeous Paddy. 

A few things were still not finished in my view of the world; what happened to Egypt? Kid zombies? Cats….. what the hell is it with zombie authors and cats!!

I did feel a little cheated at getting to 92% and then given two (ok they are great but…) first chapters of other books!

I did like all the little jibs, jabs and subtle references; very clever Mr TWB, very clever.

As a post-script TWB has now started his stand alone (but a series) of DEAD snapshots... so go take a look!

                            DEAD: End

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Alien Hunters (1) by Daniel Arenson

Midnight is a Pirilian, she is purple with yellow eyes and indigo hair. She was incarcerated by the Skelkiens, a predator race, but she escaped and is now on earth searching for a saviour, with a blazing fire fight with a starry setting this is how the book explodes in your face.

These Skelkiens are bad news and not just to Midnight, after they destroyed her world they are desperate to see her torn to shreds so that they can access her magic as their energy source.

Back on Earth is Riff, a blue musician who manages to annoy the local cult leaders (Skelkiens) who previously murdered his mother (told you they are bad news), after a particularly bad music set in the bar he lives in a magical, cryptic note is left by his magician father.

Riff and an ex-girlfriend, Romy, who happens to be a warrior, his brother who is also an ex Knight manage to buy a weird spaceship that looks like a dragon and comes with two even stranger crew, set off to find Midnight who has been prophesied to them by Riffs father, and so the story begins!

The topic allows the author to really put some amazing critters, ideas, cults, myths and characters in. It also allows for a lot of leeway as this is set many thousands of years into the future.

I did get fed up with all the repeated information in the story as DA kept reiterating the past, the characters and plotline which was really unnecessary. There are also some issues with “copied work” (I won’t say plagiarism as that’s a bit strong) and the lack of actual science, some of the characters are so cliché as to be bad, but not so bad as to be funny.

That said this is full of humour and lots of goings on, with some unlikely heroes and lots of fun, danger and excitement. The book IS written in a tongue in cheek way as to evoke all the kitsch of the sci-fi world.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Slasher: the Escape of Richard Heinz by Iain Rob Wright

Richard Heinz is a brutal killer, rapist and psychopath.  Convicted to a life in a mental institution he has managed to escape.

He must be brought to justice but it ends up as a cat and mouse chase through the dark, cursed woods of Redlake at night, in the rain – the atmosphere is so thick it is easy to visualise.

Blake Price, the famous author who once attracted this lunatic to his house, is called upon to help. The trauma that he faces is brutal.

Not as brutal as the rape and murder of Heinz latest victim and that’s not taking into account the law enforcers trying to track and capture him.

A very swift read that fully packs a punch, love the way IRW manages to draw in so many characters from other books and link events and moment.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Eye Witness Zombie Anthology

For a debut anthology for this now well established publisher/editor/author, its Amazing (yes, with a capital A!) to be able to bring all these wonderful authors together, with such differing styles and then lay them out in such a great order! Brilliant!

And THEN to add this line in the prologue "if you find an error, please feel free to email the mistake" I think shows the strength, dignity, courage and grounding this team has.... They still carry this on, several series and anthologies later. Another Amazing quality!

Why am I just getting round to writing this review now, two years after it was published and over a year (March 2012) since I bought and read it? Well, I guess I forgot! I got so excited I just marched my way through all the other anthologies, the Dead: The Ugly Beginning series and now my favourite That Ghoul Ava: Her First Adventures (Unabridged).

Love the little author bios before each story. The drawings are wonderfully intricate and the tickertape news is inspired!

Doomsday Ramblings by Tonia Brown: The gentle undertones of barbed comments, low expectation, love of a still over his wife and general disdain that this author describes shows what is obviously a terribly sad marriage in a strangely wonderful way.

Littered with humour you are lulled into the backwoods of stupidity before Ms Brown slams you with blood, gore, alcohol and general eeew.

A Soldiers Lament by Patrick D'Orazio: Told in the first person, this army lad is fed up with saving civvies rumps! 

So much action occurs in such a small space of time its hard to keep up, however, this worn out cynical solider manages to ramble on for another few blocks and pages....it always ends up the same. Did not grip me, but well written.

Childish Things by William Wood: As if a ZomPoc is not bad enough, you get trapped inside a cartoon whale! 

Or maybe you are the person who meets the whale... which has eyebrows! Funny, but sad. Great idea for a little story.

Mere Symptoms of Living by Kris Ashton: What would happen if during the ZomPoc you got locked in the bathroom.... Well now you are about to find out! 

Smirk inducing humour throughout, the inevitable ending but so well written I felt a little tear in the corner of my eye.

All in your head by Stephanie Kincaid: If you spot a zombie on the way home are you going bats? 

Should you up your medication? 

Write a reflection on the issue! 

Or just go grab a bite to eat.... Some great humour mixed with the gore.

The Nightmare by William Lederman: Great story, hated the ending... what a blinking waste of ink. Thought it was a cope out, sorry.

Run Through The Jungle by Tony Monchinski: So far the saddest tale, a great group dynamic tale.

I felt a little shaken after this one, the constant sad endings are a bit much to take after awhile.... What the heck am I saying this is a ZomPoc anthology!!! 

Does what it says on the cover!

Dredge by Nikki Sedlock: My absolute favourite story, because it's basically what I day dream about, well this was pretty much my plan! 

Im hoping for less gore and more showers tho! Will definitely be looking this author up!

One Nation Undead by Mike Harrison: OMG what a start!! Talk about gripped. 

Two believable characters which could easily flesh out a whole novel, great writing, fast but not furious, nothing in the emotion is lost. 

The ending was, well you will have to read it!

Eye in the Sky by John McCuaig: A personal favourite as set in my own country! And unique in this anthology as set in the future. Loved the little interspersed song titles, very clever.

Embedded by Andrew Black: First person writing, with some great explanations of what is going on. Lots of different tortures going on in this little story, hard to pinpoint which is the worst.

Baby Killer by Ron Harris: Brave subject, not enjoyable to read, had a hard time with this one; but nothing wrong with the writing.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Bob meets Sam by Jaime Johnesse

Starts off with a blast as Bob goes into full on dance, and body part flinging mode within the first few lines. We are also reintroduced to Griff, the empath.

The tongue in cheek humour is forefront with Bob and even if a little stinky/slimy he is such a likeable guy.

What is not to like about JJ’s writing, especially her dialogue pieces as they give her characters such life with getting stuck down in the he said/she said back and forth.

When Bob catches up with Sam, the shape-shifter, at Griff’s bar JJ explains  how they both became part of the supernatural world and how they met, a really great story in and of itself. However, when Bob learns that the necromancer he helped to capture has escaped he has to help to recapture him.

Bring on New Orleans, Voodoo hoodoo, witches, zombies and mayhem galore!

JJ moves her stories along quickly, but still holds tension, and this was no exception, fast paced but with full on mental imagery to pull you into the story.

I am looking forward to the much promised updated Sam the Shifter book.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Cast in Fire: Revelations Series 2 by Jaime Johnesse, Chirstine Sutton & Lisa Lane

I want a hell hound!!

Poor Frank, the cat loving demon, his love of kitten mugs is so endearing and yet he loves his job as a torturer in Hell, he is a guy I would love to know personally!

The ongoing escape of Djinn continues as does the drain on Lucifer’s soul reaping, with dire consequences, revelations of the fall from Grace are given up during one of her many “moments”.  A time that Poly tries hard to hide.

Poor Drew is sinking further into her soul/energy draining addiction and I loved finding out more about her past history.

Lenny, such a cutie, but the girl you want on your side in a fight not the one pounding you! Her shape shifting abilities bring some interesting  elements to the, multiple, fight scenes.

When the Djinn do their ultimate weapon release the World goes into melt down but one Senator seems to be immune and keeps rising to the top of the pile.

I love the way all three authors gel so well in their writing, you can see the differing styles in their characters but they blend their story lines so well in the joint scenes.

A few new characters in this episode of the trilogy but I think my favourite is Gabriella and her cat Vincenzo.

However, Nick the Ghul, also intrigues me and I look forward to finding out which side he really plays for.

Just when you think all is coming right for the World the ladies kick you in the gut with the final comment, talk about leave you on a knife edge and ready for the final instalment – a good tease ladies, but oh so wicked!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Edinburgh Elementals (books 1, 2 & 3) by Gayle Ramage (narrated by Chris Barnes)

Michael and his family are moving in to a new home, thankfully he discovers he has a really helpful if unusual neighbour called Hattie. Hattie with a bobble hat.

Pixies it seems like to live in lofts; much hilarity ensues at Michaels disbelief, Hattie trying to catch them and the Pixies trying not to be caught!   I shall never look at a hedgehog the same way.

I really enjoyed this short story, it made me laugh out loud several times and I thought the characters had a good depth given to them for a shorty.  The world Gayle Ramage creates sounds like an exciting one and I look forward to more.

Chris Barnes narration really gives a great edge to the story.

Hattie gets burgled and of course she has unusual things in her house.   Sadly, all the witches in the town cannot seem to protect this lovely necklace that allows the wearer to cry tears of gold.
Hattie is keen to get this back as the wearer is not usually a very lucky one despite the gold.

After a bit skulduggery she tracks down the thief.

Whilst I enjoyed the story it did not have the belly laughs of depth of story of the first one, the creatures and myths were eluded to but never fully formed and Michael and his family were a mere after thought.

Hattie finds a Forest Spirit in her boot who happens to think he is a God, in fact he is just a grumpy git called Vic. However, she has been tasked with a job by the elusive coven and is on her way North.

Unfortunately, Hattie’s car breaks down on the way to see the Ice Giants. She finds a lovely B&B owner, Mrs Dinky and the lovely mechanic Carl.

was very LotR in its enormity with huge ice statues guarding the entrance etc.

Loved the colour descriptions.

I can’t give the ending away but I do hope Gayle Ramage writes a few more.

Vic has all the fun lines and I would really like to have him in more stories. A few more giggles in this one, but still felt a bit serious.
I think Chris Barnes had a riot reading this one, it really showed. Although I think his English accent needs some work!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

God Bomb! by Kit Power

I adored the authors note it really set the scene for the entire story with its tongue in cheek poke at God and religion but with a definite "is it/isn’t" element.

However, I did not enjoy the sex scenes as felt they were not needed as the same outcome of disgust could have been achieved with a different antagonist.

The pace is very fast in the middle and could almost hear the author narrating this to me, I did go back and reread a few pages.

At first I hated the ending as I felt it was a cop out, then I let it roll around for a few days as this story kept creeping back into my thought I enjoyed it more and implanted my own meaning into various points. I can only assume this was the authors intention with his original notes regarding asking questions.

I do think it could have been a longer book with more follower’s stories and linkage to The Book (ala IRW in Final Winter) but I believe this is Kit Powers first novel and its a clever piece of writing, with some impressive thought provoking comments.

I have enjoyed KPs short stories in the Hells Gate anthologies.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Guest Blog!! TW Brown chats about.....

I stumbled across TW Brown in the autumn of 2013 at the time he was meerly a named editor in another much loved authors book series; give it a whirl I thought. I love the apocalyptic genre AND series, so imagine my delight when I discovered TWB!

I was soon suckered in and the next DEAD become something I waited for and relished. At book 10 I started to realise that this must come to an end, TWB had made it very clear that 12 was the magic number.  Yes, there were add ons, other series he was writing (Zomblog and That Ghoul Ava are amoung my favourite worlds) and bonus content BUT in two books time THIS world was ending.......

However, it seems TWB has more to give his fans (horah) and this is him (yes really!) on MY blog explaining why, how and what to expect. So, read on and enjoy!

Oh, but before I go here is his Newfoundland "pup" !!

Returning to the DEAD world

When I sat down and began writing the original DEAD series, I hoped that I would be able to put together a 4-book series. As the story unfolded before me, I realized there was so much going on…and that led to my producing 12 books (that was over 1,000,000 words!). The truth is that I could have gone on MUCH longer. There is a gigantic ten-year time jump for example. But I knew the ending, and to reach it in 12 books, I had to skip ahead.

I found that I skipped over a lot of details as I plowed ahead to that ending. Yes, I could’ve easily discarded my 12-book total announcement. However, I’d made that announcement publicly. I know of one writer that ended a series at book 6. This person went on to other projects that I was hired to edit. One day, book 7 of that series arrived in my email. I sent back a query. 

Me: “Hey, I thought you were done with this one.”
Reply: “Yeah, the other stuff isn’t making the money like “Series X” so I am gonna extend it.”

I thought that was unfair to the fan base. And while I admit this is a business, I just thought it was playing dirty. However, true to the hopes of this writer, the fans scooped up the additional books in large numbers. So, I guess that is okay. I just feel that I gave my word. I wasn’t going to be like The Who and have twenty Farewell Tours” when it came to the DEAD series as the fans knew it.

To that end, I have produced the DEAD: Snapshot—{insert town here} collection of standalone novels. To date, Portland, Oregon; Leeds, England; and Liberty, South Carolina have all received the DEAD treatment. I think the Leeds, England book is some of my best writing. It is one of the books that I truly felt good about. As a writer, I often feel my stuff is lacking.

So, all of this brings me to the real reason I am here with you today. On October 31, 2016, the DEAD world will be the setting of my new series. It begins with DEAD: Onset (Book 1 of the New DEAD series).

So, what makes this different? For one, this series will be through the eyes of one man: Evan Berry. No rotating chapters with Geeks and Vignettes; just the story of one man trying to figure out what is going on and then how to stay alive.

Evan is just a regular guy. I think that resonates more with readers than some military super-soldier packing an arsenal and having a way to rig every situation to his liking. Evan will make mistakes. Sometimes, I am betting that the readers may not like him very much. You will be inside his head, and we all know that we’ve thought things that would cause those around us to be shocked or think badly of us. You will be privy to those thoughts when they cross Evan’s mind.

The real Evan!!

What I hope to do with this series is to explore the world a bit more closely. One of my favorite twists in the mythology of the zombie is how children are different after they turn. I was inspired along this track when I was in a college psychology class. The topic of how much more active the young mind is, how open it is to learning gave me the inspiration that my child zombies would have a degree of sentience. That makes them a bit more frightening. While not actually holding on to their humanity…they are somehow different. They don’t just walk into a storm of bullets. They lurk. They wait.

Additionally, I think I was one of the early writers to explore the idea of possible immunity. That comes from Stephen King’s The Stand. The human immune system is a mystery. Some people just do not get whatever bug or virus is making the rounds. SO why shouldn’t there be those who are immune to the bite? However, once bitten, why not make that person a carrier? Imagine the schism that would eventually arise as the survivors had time to get past that first shock. And now, a person bitten but immune could infect another through fluid exchange. Think back to the hysteria and societal over-reaction to HIV and the AIDS virus. Strip away law and order, toss in those who feel they are now “The Chosen” as well as those who see the immune as dangers and abominations.

It doesn’t take long in my zombie books for zombies to become the least of people’s worries. DEAD: Onset (Book 1 of the New DEAD series) has no set number of volumes. I will write this story until I have nothing left to say. I am not in a hurry to reach an endgame. I want to suck the reader into this world and make them feel every emotion possible. Happiness, sadness, anger. I hope you enjoy it. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: I feel that every new book is my audition. 

I look forward to hearing how you feel about this book. I don’t go out seeking a flurry of 5 star reviews. It is impossible to be all things to all people, especially in the entertainment world. And I often learn things from well thought out critical reviews. If you can’t take those 1 star stingers that come every so often…you are in the wrong field. Do they feel good? No, but as long as you are seeing more love than pleas that you never take up the pen again, you should feel like you are on the right track. Let’s hope I am with my new series.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Cat with Cthulhu Eyes by Suzi M

SM takes the Lovecraft “monster” and twists into her own. To mix it with cats was just magic!

I felt her characters were full bodied and were given a great sense of realism. This added to the slow build up and dawning realisation of what was about to unfold, can’t give the game away can I !!

A superbly written piece and I could not help but gawp in awe at how much this authors style and talent have evolved over the years I have been following her.

A charmingly creepy story that really left me chilled.

Is that not the cutest and spookiest cover btw!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Film Gutter Vol. 1 by Alex Davis

I really enjoyed the introduction of this book and how the premise for the reviews originally came about. 

Basically, this is an A-Z collection of all the film reviews done by AD over 2015 for The Ginger Nuts of Horror  blog.

I loved all the reviews being put into one place but would have liked them changed in some way for the book, you can just visit the site for the same information, that said it IS a pretty book and nice to have sat on your shelf.

I found the introductory paragraph to each review very tedious after a while, to keep rereading “so here we are again at Gutter Review” was mind numbing.

Equally I would have liked some form of retrospective update of the reviews having been collected this way. That said I did like the top ten round up at the end of the book and would have been interested seing a 2016 potential watching list.

Not sure If I should count myself lucky that I have not seen many of the films (I think maybe 2!) in this review book but now feel I can really pick out the ones I am brave enough to watch and those that really I won’t waste my life on.

I love this blog anyway but seemed to have missed this Gutter Review, probably due to the film titles…. But I have enjoyed this collective review.

Bring on 2016 and Vol.2

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lost Film by Mark West/Lantern House by Stephen Bacon

Lantern House by Stephen Bacon:

Paul Madigan a reporter for a small local newspaper goes in search of a “long lost” film director, r Rutherford, whom he adored as a young man to interview him about his long lost, underappreciated, films. He now lives in isolation on Lantern Rock island.

Before setting off across the causeway he meets Ellie Gibson, she is there to photograph the wildlife on the island and attaches herself to Madigan like a limpet, but with all things in this story not all is as it seems.

Intrigue starts in the first paragraph as the two main characters (Paul & Ellie) are introduced and established early on.  Brilliant use of interaction and dialogue to show personality. 

During Madigan’s interviews with Mr Rutherford, the author was clever in using Ellie’s complete ignorance as a sounding board for the more intricate information given.

The descriptions of films were amazing; actually felt like I was watching them.  When Madigan is invited to a private viewing all sorts of horrors start to occur. Ghostly faces, shapes in strange places, odd sexual goings on and things popping out of projector screens. Actually that last one did make me jump.

Relentless in its bombardment of titbits for you to piece together, then the horror, the gore and final reveal which was brilliant, unique and well thought out.

Such brilliant attention to detail!

The Lost Film by Mark West:

Gabriel Bird is a Private Detective, his personality is shown early on with some great character interactions and inner dialogue.

The “Anselmo business”, often eluded to but never quite explained, its elusive nature sets the tone for the story.

The amount of research that went into the film industry is immense, it really shows, the digesting and then spitting out in an understandable fashion is impressive and I now feel as if I could do a mastermind round on it!

Nicely linked straight away to Lantern House but with a completely different feel and texture to the writing style.  It was full of humour and nostalgia – wonderful.

Foot massage erotica; I’m just going to leave that there, right in the middle.

Monochromatics; the main “horror” of the story, again never fully explained which gave my imagination all sorts to play with! Angels, demons, possessed people or just a trick of the light?

I really loved the way MW describes the mundane moments of life and makes them come alive.  Can’t wait to get stuck into more from these authors.