Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review:On Her Majesty's Behalf: The Great Undead War: Book II by Joseph Nassie

On Her Majesty's Behalf: The Great Undead War: Book II (The Great Undead War #2)
by Joseph Nassise

Paperback, 336 pages

Published December 2nd 2014 by Harper Voyager

First things first let me get this out of the way this is the second book in a series and normally I would never start a story in the middle but I jumped at a review copy of this novel because I have been interested in Joesph Nassie's work. I met him briefly during his time as president of the horror writers association and knew his work was well regarded.

It would be easy to dismiss this novel as fitting several genre publishing trends at once. Yes, It is a alternate history zombie steampunk novel. That sounds like it could be super cheezy but it is not. Nassie pulls it off.

I consider this novel to be a great crossover between a Alistair MacLean (Guns of Navarone) novel meets zombie apocalypse. Set against the great war (WW I to us) this novel finds under seige from zombie hordes created by German chemical weapons.

Madman Major Burke is our hero and he is given the job of getting into zombie occupied London to rescue the royal family. There are two styles of zombies Shamblers and Shredders.

This short novel is rare case where I could have handled another hundred pages. The pace is great, the action fast and the vibe feels like a War mission novel when it needs to, and a horror novel when it needs to feel like that. It is well written and seems well researched.

I recommend this series to readers who like adventure fantasy and libraries should have this available for younger readers. They will love it. I intended to go back and read the first book and will be in line when the next one comes out.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Book Review: Stinger by Robert R. McCammon

Stinger By Robert McCammon

538 pages

Pocket books

Robert McCammon is one of the few writers I can say has not delivered a stinker yet. Now I have not read every book he has written but I trust the man to deliver. Stinger was a novel I had held off on because I had not heard as much good stuff as some of RRM's classics like say Boy's Life or Swan Song. But Mine is an overlooked novel in his back catalog I love that one so at some point I was going to read it.

I am glad I did. First things first this is a very different novel from RRM's early work. It is a Crossover of Science Fiction and horror. I think I expected a creature feature but it's foundation is a much more solid Science Fiction base than I was expecting.

Of course RRM novels move fast (even when they are long) and normally have very strong characters. The characters are as strong as always but I would say that this novel is not quite as well paced as most of his novels. This is the first time where I found myself thinking (this could be a little bit shorter.)

Set in a isolated bordertown between Texas and Mexico the setting is vivid and draws you in. Two towns in rural part of Texas along the Rio Grande becomes the battle ground between alien forces. I went into this novel totally cold on the plot so I would suggest that here, but if you need to know more...

An alien ship crashes in the desert and we learn it is an alien rebel on the run from monstrous bounty hunter that she calls Stinger. I say she because the rebel Alien assumes the body of a young girl.

I am sure some of these plot elements with the rivial gangs are a little out of date now as this was written in the 80's. If there is a weakness to the novel, besides being a tad long is that the dynamic of Daufin body snatching the body of the child is not as explored as I hope hoped. That could be me projecting as I just finished watching BBC America's The Intruders which did that masterfully.

Horror Fiction for the Holidays 2014

Of course I would like you to buy and read my novels for the holidays I mean what says Hanakah more than Chinese vampires and werewolf skinheads right? Nothing says Christmas like The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies! However I do not just want to suggest my own work. I mean I believe in giving back to the Book-a-shere as it were. Maybe you are not horror fan but someone in your circle of friends and family loves a good scary or a super bizarre novel.

Books are a great gift, they give hours of entertainment, they look neat on the shelf and in these cases they tell good stories you are not finding in Movies and TV. So I am going to end this with a pitch for my newest novel but before that here are some horror novels/ collections I think are worth getting.

Jeremy Robert Johnson:
The book I am most looking forward to next year is JRJ’s Skullcrack City coming out from Lazy Facist press towards the end of winter. In the meantime Check out his last short story collection “We Live Inside You” We Live Inside you is dark bizarro horror literature at it's sharpest point, sharp enough to enter through the temple and worm deep into your brain. JRJ comes from the same scene but doesn't rely on dildo jokes or B-movie tropes like a lot of bizarro writers do. The insane ideas are still there, but it's like crème filling in a fancy donut. At the same time it's hard for me to advise anyone to take a bite of a book written by a guy who keeps a list of parasites above his desk, but this book is a must for lovers of all literature that is weird and dark.

Sarah Pinborough:
A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinbrough. This British novel is one of the favorites of recent years, the first of trilogy. This trilogy was released in England under the title Dog Faced Gods, but published here in America in April under the title Forgotten Gods. (I love the cover on the British edition) This is a brutal mystery with a weird crime backbone. The world that Pinborough has created here is filled with very dark shades of grey with almost zero characters worth rooting for. Oh you’ll be interested in them; you’ll want to keep turning pages.

On top of all those elements this novel also has a powerful plot line about a serial killer, including one of the creepiest killers I have read about since Brite’s Exquisite Corpse, but at the same time were talking about a novel with a subtle social conscience. The other two books in the trilogy rule as well.

Cody Goodfellow:
A Perfect Union is a weird masterpiece. Influences ranging from Cronenberg body horror, Evil Dead style gore comedy to a fascinating political dissection of Marx and Thoreau make this a genius horror novel destined to be misunderstand by the masses but loved by the readers ready to get in the ring with Cody. #9 on my all time horror novels list. Dark Bizarro masterpiece.

F.Paul Wilson:
The Tomb is a great novel that is a part of two separate series. Both the 1st book of the Repairman Jack series and the third book of the Adversary Cycle. Repairman Jack is 15 books and Adversary is 6 books. F.Paul Wilson is a plotting Yoda, Master he is. Book 15 of Repairman Jack is also book six of Adversary. The thing is he wrote it over two decades and it works perfectly. Each book is fun and different in its own ways. Harbingers is book 11 of Repairman Jack and one of my favorite books ever. But it all starts with The Tomb so that is where you should begin. You’ll be begging for a Jack TV show like the rest of us. The Tomb is a great action horror novel which combines monsters, suspense, mystery and interesting characters. It is an excellent introduction to the world of Repairman Jack.

John Shirley:
My Favorite author and biggest influence is John Shirley who was a punk rock pioneer in late 70’s Portland and moonlit as a Science Fiction author. He has a Science Fiction Masterpiece (City Come A Walkin’) and a Horror Masterpiece (Wetbones) but I think Demons is where you should start. Demons is a great end of the world novel that highlights aspects of Shirley’s entire catalog. Its high concept, socio-political, funny and all around weird.

World War Cthulu:
This one is on my wishlist. I have not read it yet but I have heard three of the authors read stories from it live and from author list alone I want it. “This book chronicles these desperate battles from across the ages, including Roman Britain, The American Civil War, World War Two, The Vietnam Conflict, and even into the far future.” This collection features stories by John Shirley, Cody Goodfellow and a fantastic tale by my Flesh Trade co-author Edward R. Morris. Amazing illustrations too.

Lisa Morton:
Netherworld by Lisa Morton. Lisa is out of Los Angeles is one of my favorite writers working today. In the last decade Morton separated herself from the pack with several amazing short stories in major anthologies often being the best story along side names like Clive Barker, Dennis Ecthison or Gary Braunbeck. This novel is a swashbuckling supernatural horror crossover with a historical vibe, big thumbs up from me.

Some of the Horror/ Bizarro Publishers I think rock:

Eraserhead press, Lazy Fascist, Deadite, Broken River books, Dark Regions Press.

Wishlist:

A Necessary End by F.Paul Wilson and Sarah Pinbrough

Malediction by Lisa Morton

Rumors of my Death by Gina Ranali

Deep Like a River by Tim Waggoner

Long Lost Dog of It by Michael Kazepis

The Last Projector by David James Keaton

Hunter from the Woods by Robert R. MaCammon

In the End, Only Darkness by Monica O’Rourke

So many…actually I will just stop there. Even though I can think of 15 more easily.

OK now that that I finished promoting others work. How about my latest novel from Deadite press. Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich…

"Agranoff writes about what he knows and does it with knowledge and compassion. Most of his older readers, like me, will probably have the common misconception of punks and skinheads in the late 80s as racially bigoted. I had to look up the definition of “SHARP” and “Straight Edge”. But the author is not necessarily writing to us. He is writing for his generation which already knows this…This is an exceptional short novel that delivers on its promise of horror but delves into bigger issues by someone who understand the generation it speaks to. I recommend this book to all lovers of horror fiction regardless of age. The hardcore horror reader will not be disappointed. But I would also advise the prospective reader to come for the Nazi werewolves but stay for the social and family themes. Thoughtful horror fiction like this is getting increasingly difficult to come by." - Hellnotes

"I enjoyed this book. The street menace of the first half is palpable, with one tense scene using a dead-end alleyway to superb effect. I suspect that some of this is semi-autobiographical, which lends credibility to the action...David Agranoff is largely an invisible storyteller and pleasingly succinct. He paints a vivid picture, whether in a concentration camp, ska gig or back street, and transports us there through sharp characterization and drama." - Matthew Fryer /The HellForge

"Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich, by David Agranoff, is a coming of age tale done well...Both the SHARPs and Neo-Nazi crews are portrayed in a realistic and life-like way that envelops the reader. It is a testament to Agranoff’s writing style and his own personal experiences in the subculture." -Horrornovelsreview.com

"Despite some dark subject matter, it’s an entertaining read, and well worth checking out." The Books of Blood blog

Agranoff combines anti-racist skinheads and Nazi werewolves for the perfect punk rock coming of age story you never knew you needed – Dread Media Podcast

"Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich is one of those rare novels that truly erases genre labels. Part punk, coming of age story; part social commentary; part straight-up, old school werewolf horror, Boot Boys delivers on all fronts. David Agranoff takes readers street level into a time, place, and culture depicted with the kind of rich and raw details only one who lived it can know. A blend of beautiful prose and brutal honesty. A powerful, passionate, must-read book.” –James Chambers, Three Chords of Chaos

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bloodbath (My new Death metal favorite)

The band I am have been listening to alot lately is Bloodbath: Martin Axenrot (Opeth), Anders Nyström (Katatonia), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost), and Per Eriksson Check them out. Full concert.

Book Review: Netherworld (The Chronicles of Diana Furnaval #1) by Lisa Morton

Netherworld (The Chronicles of Diana Furnaval #1)

by Lisa Morton

Paperback, 282 pages

JournalStone

It should be no shock to anyone who follows my blog, or my reviews that Lisa Morton out of Los Angeles is one of my favorite writers working today. In the last decade Morton separated herself from the pack with several amazing short stories in major anthologies often being the best story along side names like Clive Barker, Dennis Ecthison or Gary Braunbeck. These stories earned her several Bram Stoker awards and when she unleashed her first novel The Castle of Los Angles I was excited by the ghost story which was a personal spin that was totally Lisa Morton.

That is what I look for in a horror novel. It has all been done a hundred times, so what does a writer bring to a story that no one else can bring? This novel is very much a Lisa Morton story and I am not sure I see anyone else pulling it off.

Netherworld is the story of Diana Furnaval who just inherited the fortune of her husband's wealth and responsibility. Passed on in the form of journal that contains of maps to various gateways between our world and the netherworld. The family had become guardians who use magi from the journals to close the gateways. Through these gateways 80 or so of them around the come various monsters that make up the local mythology.

Diana is good hero, a woman who is progressive for her time. Haunted by the loss of her husband and wanting to complete his mission. This set-up is perfect a long running series (I believe a trilogy is planned) which has potential to send Diana on many swashbuckling adventures fighting various local monsters around the globe. Diana has two sidekicks a cat who senses the gateways named Mina and a Chinese martial artist Yi-kin.

Once Diana and crew start globe trotting we are treated to adventures in India, china and the old west. If there is a weakness to me these chapters could have been entire novels and I would have been happy. The China segment finally gives Morton ( a Hong Kong film-a-phile and Tsui Hark expert) a chance to write her Wuxia story complete hopping vampires.

The writing is simple but effective, the prose does a great job of creating a vivid setting. The 19th century setting is used create mood and I enjoyed spending time there. The characters are strong Diana is a good hero, and much like Kato in Green Hornet Yi-kin is a great hero that risks stealing the show.

Ready for more. I’ll be picking up book two for sure. This novel is a swashbuckling supernatural horror crossover with a historical vibe, big thumbs up from me.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Horror Nerds Check Out Mick Garris Interviews on Youtube

So one of the best ways I learned about writing Genre fiction in the early days was reading and re-reading interviews with the greats. Mick Garris is compiling years of interviews some old some new with the greats in the horror genre. Check it out. Also if you search my blog you'll find a review of his excellent book Development hell.

Book Review: The Specimen by Pete Kahle

The Specimen by Pete Kahle

489 pages Self-published

This review doesn’t make me feel great, I have only met the author through the internet but Pete and I have talked a few times and I think he is a cool cat. I was really looking forward to reading this because I like Pete’s taste in novels and film and thought the concept was cool.

The Specimen is a science fiction horror novel about a very SLOW alien invasion that has happened against the back drop of human history. For thousands of years these body snatcher like aliens referred to as Riders have been influencing our history and infiltrating our species. Most of the narrative takes place in modern New England after group of urban explorers find a jar with an alien rider intact in a closed insane asylum . The Asylum has a history that ties back to the ancient conflict that goes back to events that are explained in interludes.

There are moments of good writing and the story is very cool one. I loved the concept and think there is a good epic here. I give Kahle credit for being ambitious, but I don’t think this book ultimately does its job of telling the story. I finished reading it, but had I not been given a review copy I doubt I would have lasted past the first 150 pages.

The first warning sign should have been three page list of characters at the front of the book. I referred to it often because the characters blended together for me. I kept thinking of The Stand I don’t remember no matter how characters were introduced needing a list.

Many of the characters get their own narrative thread, infact that was an issue I had. This book never built up narrative steam for two reasons. New characters were added constantly and when it did swing around it was broken up with “articles”, journal entries or Classified files. It told the story sure but each non-narrative device (like articles or files) forced the reader out of the story momentum. The disjointed story in that sense never was able to grab my interest.

This review hurt me to write because Kahle’s dedication to telling this story bleeds off the page. I am sure this style works for some. It could be argued that the master Stephen King used this style in Carrie, but that was a shorter book and tactic was used much more sparingly.

There is sequel in the works, I think Kahle has a cool concept to work with but I personally didn’t like the style of writing. When He tells a straight story I enjoyed it. I could see the talent and ability. A more straight narrative in the sequel and the concept is cool enough I will give it a shot.