Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Review: Degrees of Fear by CJ Henderson

Degrees of Fear by CJ Henderson
Introduction and story introductions by William Jones. Afterword by Joe Mauceri. illustrations by Ben Fogletto.
Dark Regions Press, 266 pages

This is a great collection by an author I had read here and there in various Lovecraftian style anthologies over the years. According to the introduction Henderson has been plugging away for thirty years. Most of these stories are from the last ten years but two are new to this pretty edition. It has a pretty full color cover art and eight neat illustrations throughout. The writing is tight modern Mythos style Lovecfraftian fiction that borrows not just from Lovecraft but second generation mythos writers like Lin Carter.

I was most impressed by two of the shorter stories "Hope" and the title story "Degrees of Fear." Hope is genius tale of hell and damnation that paints an ugly picture in a short word count of how a demon just might torture you in hell. Powerful stuff. The title story to me riffs on Lovecraft style the best without relying on the long dead authors characters or monsters. the story is a neat slight of hand and I thought it closed out the book on a strong note.

My only problem with this book is how many times I saw the name Lovecraft mentioned in the the introductions that come with each story. I don't mind authors playing in the master's sandbox but it gets frustrating for me as reader when it seems like that is the only terrority the author is going in. Cody Goodfellow is a great example of an author who writes excellent mythos stories but also writes very un-lovecraftian stuff as well.

Henderson not only writes about elder gods but also went as far as to write a story about Herbert West(The Lovecraft character who inspired Re-animator). Henderson is a talented writer with a sharp imagination, this book is filled cover to cover with impressive tales. They would be more impressive to me if they didn't all exist in Lovecraft's world. I read in his bio that he has a series of his own creation, I intend to read that.

If you have a focus on Lovecraftian fiction in your collection, or if you are looking for modern Lovecraftian stuff this volume is essential.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vegan Revolution...With Zombies T-Shirts Now!

Hey Folks I'm still trying to raise money to pay of the damage done to the car we used to the trailer for Vegan Revolution...With Zombies. I have another cool way to help us out! My Buddy Magik (who I made into a character in the book) has a T-shirt print shop. He is printing these amazing T-shirts on Organic cotton.

Front: "When there is no more meat in hell, the vegans shall walk the earth."

Back: Has the cover art for the book.

Organic Cotton, ethically made, zero waste printing process. Grey shirts(It's the color where the design looks best. Any funds left over after paying the car will be donated to to Try Vegan PDX. Guys and ladies shirt designs available.

$20.00 (including Postage,International rates may vary)
$15.00 (Bike delivery in Portland,Oregon)

Payments to Paypal:
E-mail me Shirt size and Address you want the shirt shipped or Delivered to.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Review: The Fall (Strain book Two)

The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro And Chuck Hogan

309 pages

William Morrow

Guillermo Del Toro is to horror geek-dom what Eddie Van Halen was to guitar playing in the 80’s. A master who can do no wrong, his films, his art, and now his novels are fantastic. I feel bad because Chuck Hogan who is also a bestselling author seems to be overshadowed by GDT(literally and figuratively). There is a good reason for that beyond the fact that movies are more popular (although the success of “The Town” will help), the strain trilogy is very much Del Toro’s baby. He can and will write novels on his own some day I am sure, but he teamed up with Hogan because Hogan had skills to write the police procedural stuff.

I liked The Stain book one, it was a great introduction. The authors have said that each book stand alones, and while that sounds nice, I am not sure that is true. The first book is a great introduction to the characters, and as the second book does a good job of reviewing the events it would be a shame to miss out on the first book. That being said the first book is not as strong as the second.

The story of The Fall lends itself to kicking ass. The first book was world building and information dumps it was a lot of stuff as a novelist you have to do. How do the Vampires work? Who are the characters? What are the rules. So for book two we have all those things established and we are ready to rock.

I knew I would dig this book, I love a great end of the world apocalypse novel, McCammon’s Swan Song is perhaps my favorite and while it’s not as sprawling as swan song or as intimate as I am Legend the strikes perfect balance. Not too long, not a lot of wasted fat, the story cooks along at a great pace.

It also ends with a great cliffhanger and set up for the third book that makes you wonder why no other vampire author ever thought of the end these two did.

The Fall follows the same characters Eph Goodweather the CDC guy, Fet the exterminator, and Vampire hunter Setrakian. It deepens their story and that of the Vampire ancients and master. Also introduces new characters like a retired Mexican wrestler now as the silver angel.

The pace is exciting making it a quick read, the characters are solid and fleshed out without wasting word count on it. The chapters split back and forth between setting and characters with such perfect pacing that you feel like your watching film. The film editing and writing influence GDT brings to the table works really well in this novel.

Near perfect science fiction horror end of the world novel with the addition of a vampire mythos, how can you go wrong? You can only go wrong by missing the chance to read this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review Praise the Dead by Gina Ranalli

Anyone who has followed my blog knows I love Gina Ranalli and her wide range of horror and bizarro books. House of Falling Trees to me is her at her horror best and Suicide girls in the Afterlife is her bizarro best. Gina returns with a unique spin on the zombie tale, see I’m not the only vegan with a zombie novel out.

Gina plays it serious with a mini-epic written in minimalist style. She tells a story in 170 pages that would take Stephen King a bible thick 1,000 pages or more to tell. At times it does feel like we are reading the final chapter of a bigger story but Gina has said we have not seen the last of some of the interesting characters in this novel.

Praise the Dead is the tale of two gifted kids born in other parts of the country each with strange talents. Lindy talks to birds and they tell her important things from a young age. Andrew has the power of resurrection, he starts with small animals and before long he is killing and returning humans.The forces of good and evil are taking sides behind Andrew and Lindy, with a great battle coming Andrew builds his army.

Ranalli has done a good job of finding a interesting hook to update the zombie story, in a re-telling of the Joan of Arc myth. This one doesn’t focus on siege or survival and in that sense it is different. It has more in common with the second half of the stand than it does Night of the Living Dead. I don’t think it’s as good of introduction to her work as House of Fallen trees, but it is hint of the trilogy it is meant to kick off. Can’t wait to read the next two.

Book Review: He is Legend a Tribute to Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson is one of the greatest living writers in any genre but in the fields of Science Fiction and Horror he is a giant. To the mainstream you can always say he is the guy who wrote and name any of several classics. People know and love his work but often don’t know his name. The man behind several of the best Twilight zones, I am Legend, Somewhere in Time and Duel to name a few.

He is Legend is a long overdue tribute to Matheson. This anthlogy has sequels and companion pieces to Matheson tales by Stephen King, Joe Hill, John Shirley, Mick Garris, F.Paul Wilson, William F. Nolan, Gary Branbeck, Thomas F. Monteleone and many other giants in the field.

Fans of Matheson should find this book to be essential. There are no stinkers in this collection, but favorites came early in the collection. Throttle is a excellent sequel of sorts to Matheson’s story/screenplay Duel written by father and son team Stephen King and Joe Hill. This is a great piece and had sentence that made laugh hard enough I put the book down.

Mick Garris has interesting prologue to I am Legend written from thye point of view of the annoying neighbor Ben Cortman. Another favorite is John Shirley’s companion piece to Matheson’s classic Somewhere in Time. In Shirley’s piece a historian uses the same method of time travel to try and stop the events at the OK Corral.

Now that is book is out in trade paperback, it’s great way to celebrate one of the greatest 20th century writers to ever expand the genre.

Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

This book is destined to become a modern Halloween classic and should be read in the days leading up to Hallowen to get full enjoyment. A slightly darker take on the Midwestern Halloween tale than Bradbury’s Something Wicked this Way Comes but it’s in the same vein. It’s period piece that takes place in a nameless Midwestern town. Each year the Halloween becomes with a great sacrifice.

The harvest guild has to make sure or the crops they depend on might not come back after the winter. So every year on Halloween the residents make “The Run”. The teenage boys hit the street and compete to be the first to kill October boy AKA: Sawtooth Jack, a Pumpkin headed monster that bleeds wrapped candy.

Our hero is Pete McCormick who is out to win the night and kill the October Boy but the mystery heats up when he gets clues to the person behind the Jack o’ Latern.

Dark Harvest is a brilliant short horror novel, written by acclaimed author Norman Partridge. The style is jarring at times, Partridge breaks down the forth wall, talking directly to the reader in second person. Most of the book is written in third person and the point of shift slightly from time to time. In the hands of lesser writer it would have totally turned me off but Partridge has a master’s touch. Bottom line is it works. Pick up the paperback and put it on the TBR until Halloween week. You’ll be glad you did.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Three Novels On The Way...

Three New Novels this year:

Hey there, just wanted to give you an update on what is going on with my novels for the next year. First I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who bought, borrowed or found another way to read Vegan Revolution…with Zombies. I really had fun writing that book and promoting it has also been an adventure. Thank you for supporting the book and helping me promote for an artist at my level word of mouth is crucial.

So I have three more books due out from various imprints of Eraserhead press. Each one is very different from each other and I think if you enjoyed my collection Screams from a Dying World you could get a hint of the range I am shooting for over time with the novels. Here is a short preview of the books.

March/ April 2011

Hunting the Moon Tribe

After years of delay I have a firm date for the first novel I wrote Hunting the Moon Tribe. It’s an epic Wuxia Pan (Chinese kungfu fantasy) horror crossover. Bram Stoker award winning author Lisa Morton who wrote that awesome Castle of Los Angeles..."I've never read (or seen) anything like it, and HUNTING THE MOON TRIBE should mark Mr. Agranoff as one of the most original and exciting new voices to emerge in genre fiction in a dragon's age." Or the bizarro author Jordan Krall had this to say "Agranoff not only dazzles us with breathtaking action scenes and vampire violence but also tugs at our heartstrings with realistic family drama and romance. It’s a scary martial arts fantasy that will please just about everyone. David Agranoff is a gifted storyteller.”

Summer 2011

Goddamn Killing Machines

This a military Science Fiction novel in the tradition of the Dirty Dozen, The Forever War and Starship Troopers.

GKM is the story of a team of military contractors in 22nd century who are wanted around the various planets and colonies of human expansion for various war crimes. They are given a deal. Kill one target and all is forgiven. The problem is the target is the one member of their team they fear and he is hiding the most hostile planet known to humanity.

Somewhere along a river eleven times the length of the amazon on planet filled with vicious wildlife is the greatest psychopath these professional killers have ever known. If they can survive this epic journey they met yet discover the horrible truth behind their mission.

Fall 2011

Bootboys of the Wolfreich

It’s the summer of 1989 sixteen year small town anti-racist Skinhead Paul Jackson is moving with his family to Chicago. He is excited to hang-out,drink beer, fight and go to shows with the big city skins. The SHARPS were winning the turf with the Nazis from the Westside suburbs.

Sonny is smarter than your average Nazi skinhead, he is tired of losing battle after battle in the streets with the SHARPS. After their leader is put in prison an old man with thick German accent walks into their lives, he brings with him the message of thousand year Reich and magical wolfskin.

Overnight their evil ideas and desire for belonging turns them into monsters with a appetite for flesh. The tide starts turning as bodies of mangled rude boys, skins and straight edgers turn up around the northside of Chicago.