Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Challenges

So Book Chick City is hosting Zombie Reading Challenge 2013!!  I wasn't able to finish last year's challenge, so hope to redeem myself with this.  I am going for two chomps; wish me luck!  Click on the image in the sidebar for details on how to join the challenge!

Other challenges I thought sounded fun and decided to join are both hosted by Midnyte Reader, the Horror Reading Challenge 2013 and the New Orleans Reading Challenge 2013.  For details on these, again, click on the images in the sidebar!

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Is Halloween: SEQUEL by Mark Allan Gunnells

Marl Allan Gunnells first came to my attention when I heard about Asylum, his zombie apocalypse novella that placed the action in the middle of a gay bar.  This idea sounded too good to be true to me; I mean, could the author pull off such an original approach without the story coming across as mere drivel?

So I read Asylum.

And it was great!  Not only had Mark created a terrifying, action packed zombie tale but he had also written an original, fresh piece of queer horror that proved to me that this was a writer to watch.

Then I read Tales From the Midnight Shift, Volume 1.

An awesome collection that shows off Mark's originality and range as a writer, Tales confirmed for me that Mark has talent to spare and that he was going to be one of my "go-to" authors when I wanted fresh, new horror.

And now Mark Allan Gunnells brings us Sequel...

Sequel is an homage to all those creepy 80s slasher films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, etc.  And it is a pitch perfect one.  Clearly, Mark is a big fan of the genre and his reverence shows through with every word. All the tropes are here: psycho killer, small town, helpless victims...and Mark has centered the plot around the 10th anniversary of a cult horror film.  A major studio has green lit a sequel, reuniting the cast from the original.  But even before the new film goes into production, the killings start happening.  The studio scrambles to save its film and the remaining cast lives in fear as the body count continues to rise...

Mark writes the kind of horror I like; it's thoughtful, fast paced, more "chills and thrills" than "blood and guts" and always rises above the fray.  He creates characters that you become invested in, and keeps the tension ratcheted up, so you wind up reading the entire novel in one sitting, on the edge of your seat the whole time.

I enjoyed Sequel very much and it is a great tribute to the masked killer genre.  Because the story stays true to the classics, there were points in the story that I was able to predict.  But Mark is able to throw in some original twists that I enjoyed and the ending had me rooting for (what else?) a sequel!!  What better time of year to pick up a creepy, scary read like Sequel than right now?!  Or any of Mark's books, for that matter; you can see my thoughts on Asylum here and Tales here.  It would be scary NOT to!

Happy reading...and unpleasant dreams!

(This book counts as 3/10 in the 2012 Horror/Thriller Reading Challenge hosted by Sweeping Me.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Halloween!

So it is now fall and October is here and I am going to embark on my first themed Halloween month on the blog.  I will be reviewing books with all kinds of scary creatures; we'll talk about tentacled beasties, crazed serial killers, classic movie monsters and of course, the traditional vamps, zombies and ghosts.  And I'm sure we'll talk about the new season of American Horror Story: ASYLUM.  We may even have an interview or two!  :)

And other great blogs have already started with their Halloween celebrations:  over at Book Chick City (one of my fave blogs and whose Zombie Reading Challenge I am participating in) they are entering their fourth year of presenting All Hallows Eve with tons of reviews, interviews and giveaways!  Please check out these scary ladies, so as not to miss out on the fun!

At The Eloquent Page, in honor of this being perhaps our last Halloween (as foretold by those pesky Mayans), they are spending October reviewing apocalyptic fiction with The End.  Reading Pablo's reviews have made me buy more than a few books; so take it from me, his reviews are not to be missed!

So that's it for now!  I think our first review up is going to put us in the path of a crazed killer, so be careful and look out for it soon!

Happy reading...and unpleasant dreams!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Superhero Month: SHERO by Jack Wallen

SHERO by Jack Wallen is a fun, breezy yet still superheroic adventure with a very different kind of hero.

Shero, the hero(ine) of Wallen's story, is an intrepid crime fighter and member of the Society of Superheroes, doing it all and then some in fabulous couture and three inch heels.  Shero is dedicated to protecting the innocent and being an exemplary leader in the SSH...until it's all turned upside down and she doesn't know who she can trust or where to turn to.  Now instead of fighting crime and keeping the citizenry safe from VILE, the group of supervillains at odds with the SSH, Shero must clear her name and figure out who in the Society has it in for her and why.

Wallen has done an admirable job of creating a colorful, over-the-top comedic take on the superhero genre and seasoned it with the tropes one would find in more traditional  adventures.  Shero is not your ordinary crime fighter; she is a transgendered superhero top to bottom and embraces herself totally and is also accepted by society.  From her custom made, Kevlar coated black dresses to her poisonous fingernail polish, there is no shame in her game!  And her compatriots are just as colorful, with their code names and awesome super powers.  There are leagues for both the heroes and villains in this story, double crosses and secret histories.  Clearly,Wallen has read more than a few comics in his day, and has turned out a new adventure here with a very clever twist.

I really appreciated that Wallen was able to try his hand at telling a superhero story, especially with a protagonist such as Shero, and keep it fun and light.  Just because there are gay characters in a story, too often  it seems that the story will wind up in the gutter, with said characters winding up in the sheets.  Wallen never takes it there and decides instead to titillate his readers, even in the scenes that involve the sensual temptress, Mephistopheles.

In fact it's with the scenes between Mephistopheles and Shero that I had a small issue with.  It's stated that she is irresistible and she and Shero do have a past from years before but I felt that with a protagonist that is unapologetically transgendered, would this be the lover that Shero would really be with?  Ultimately though, this is a superhero story, and I didn't think twice about it as the story rushed to it's climax.  Wallen leaves the door wide open for a sequel (do I smell franchise?) and I'd be more than happy to see what shenanigans Shero will get into next.

This is NOT your classic superhero adventure but something different.  Shero is a different kind of superhero indeed but still embodies what makes a person a superhero in the first place; she is honorable, forthright and true.  And most importantly, true to herself.  Pick up your copy here and you will enjoy Shero's adventures as much as I did.

Happy reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Superhero Month: BEAT TO A PULP: SUPERHERO edited by David Cranmer, Scott D Parker

This was my first foray into the BEAT TO A PULP (BTAP) series, edited by David Cranmer.  He initially created the BTAP e-zine as a way to present well written stories that recalled the old traditional pulp adventures and now there is also a series of books that compile even more of these same great stories.  I came across the series while exploring more pulp and noir reading, after finishing 8 Pounds by Chris Holm and I'm very glad I took the chance and got myself a copy of Beat to a Pulp: Superhero.

This volume, edited by Cranmer and Scott D.Parker doesn't just deal with the traditional "superhero"; as a matter of fact, most of the stories deal with ordinary people rising to the occasion and doing heroic things.  So while not exactly what I was expecting, given the title, the excellence of the stories was very much what I      was expecting and I found myself enjoying this anthology very much.

There are thirteen tales in this volume; I will highlight my favorites:

The collection kicks off with a firecracker of an introduction by Parker that really sets up the tone and theme of the book; you can also read it here as a teaser!

Jake Hinkson's The Long Drop places superheroes squarely inside the New York City police department.  Cooper, a NYPD officer, wakes up in a hotel room, with no memory of how he got there or why there is a severed head in the shower.  Hinson introduces a gritty, alternate reality that I'd like to see him explore further, where people with super powers have been accepted in society and builds the tension nicely as Cooper tries to unravel the mystery of who has set him up and why...

The Revenge of the Red Avenger called to mind the innocent kids from Stand By Me and The Sandlot; Billy and Carole are just a young boy and girl who are best friends and share a love of comic books.  They decide to become heroes, like the ones in  their comics, so they can find and fight crime in their neighborhood. Kevin Burton Smith packs an emotional wallop with this story, turning a tale of carefree innocence into one of tragedy with a powerful climax.

The femme fatale of the group, Sandra Seamans, also presents an emotional story with Moon Mad.  Molly hides from the moon at night, safely amongst the nooks and crannies of the city, because the moon brings her bad "dreams".  Then one night, Molly's memories won't be denied and she has to relive a terrible past in order to save a group of innocent girls.  Seamans made me care very much about Molly and while I guessed the ending, it was no less sad for me when the story was over.

Benoit Lelievre gives us Doberman: Third Party Law Enforcement and introduces us to a mercenary called upon by a politician to save his twin sons from a madman.  The story is just the right amount of violent and the protagonist reminded me of in some ways of Frank Castle, the Punisher.  Lelievre writes a dark story and I hope he chronicles more of the Doberman's adventures.

And finally, to round out my list of favorites, is Chad Eagleton's Somewhere Beyond the Pavement.  It is another tale of young kids finding themselves in dire circumstances and having to find the inner strength to fight.  To live.  The way Eagleton writes the story, switching from the children, to their father, to the villains and back again really creates a thrilling edge-of-your-seat story and a made it my favorite entry in the collection.

I enjoyed this collection very much and will definitely be seeking out more from the BTAP series, as well as other works from the individual authors.  It is a great collection, and each story is was highly readable; there wasn't a clunker in the bunch.  You can get Beat To A Pulp: Superhero here and when you do, plan on reading this action packed volume in just one sitting, it's that good!

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Are you ready for some more trailers?!  Here are a new batch of teasers, and don't forget to follow the clues!  :)

And I want to send a special thanks to the Darkdhalia for sharing these creepy teasers!  I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of the new season!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Some more interesting tidbits from the web:

Andrew Wolter has released the first chapter of his New Mythos novel Seasons in His Abyss  here; the novel is due for release in Fall 2012.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a very interesting post up called "Two Racists for the Price of One" that discusses Robert E Howard and H P Lovecraft, their beliefs and writing today in the genres these two men helped create.  Her and her partner Paula R Stiles also have an amazing new anthology in the works but they need help in funding the project; you can read more about  Sword and Mythos here and here, plus the ways you can help give this new project wings.

Also, blogger Jessica Strider of Sci-Fi Fan Letter has a post here that features a very inspirational endcap display that she created at the bookstore she works at, that itself draws inspiration from a series of posts done earlier this year by that prolific bloggess Sarah from Bookworm Blues; as both Jessica and Sarah point out, disabilities in science fiction and fantasy is a very important but under discussed topic.  Please take the time to read the posts written by Sarah and seek out the books from Jessica's still growing reading list.  You will find it a very enriching experience.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Must See TV: The creepiness continues on AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM

YAY!!!  More peeks of the upcoming AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM plus a promo featuring the cast!

Superhero Month: Miscellany

Just cruising around the internet, looking for interesting views of superheroes; whether they're original, reboots or mash-ups, I thought these were pretty cool!

I came across Aaron Diaz and his blog via the ever informative  Here is a peek of his reimagined Justice League, Legion of Doom and Batman; you can see them all here:

I also came across another blog by artist Denis Medri via Twitter; the blog is in Italian but his artwork is wonderful and needs no translation.  He has remade the cast of STAR WARS as 80s high school students and Marvel and DC heroes/villains in 70s, Western and Steampunk styles!!!  Please see more of his work here:

                                                         C3-P0 and R2-D2 as The Nerds

                       As 80s high school students: Han Solo, Chewbaca and the Millenium Falcon

                                                             A 70s inspired Punisher...

                                               A truly wicked looking steampunk Venom...

                                                                and a Western Batman

As I've said before, I'm a big fan of reinventions of such iconic characters and found myself wishing to know the stories that would accompany these images!  These are all so great and there are thousands of words here just waiting to be told!  Until they are, I shall keep perusing the web for even more great superhero art...

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Superhero Month: The Art of Hector Barros

I came across this tumblr blog quite by accident and was glad to see some very cool, very interesting superhero amalgams on it.  Hector Barros asks his Facebook followers to come up with interesting pairings of DC and Marvel characters and he creates awesome pics like these:

To check out more of Hector's work or even be one of the lucky ones to get their amalgam idea made into art like this, check out his Facebook page here.

Must See TV: More creepiness from AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM

Ryan Murphy and the creative team behind AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM continue to ramp up the excitement and have released more teaser clips in anticipation of the show's debut October 17.  They keep getting better; I especially like "Bandages" and "Taste" reminds me of the red pill/blue pill choice in Matrix...I wonder if one of the inmates is having trouble deciding what's real and what's not?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Superhero Month: SEVEN WONDERS by Adam Christopher

Adam Christopher exploded onto the scene with his debut novel Empire State, and  he is poised to make even more noise with his sophomore effort, Seven Wonders.  Seven Wonders is a big budget summer blockbuster action packed superhero movie, all of it brilliantly captured in novel form and with enough plot twists, secret identities and double crosses to satisfy even the most jaded of comic book aficionados.

Christopher sets his story in the "Shining City" of San Ventura, home to the last superhero team on earth, the Seven Wonders, who protect San Ventura and its citizens from the machinations of the last supervillian, the mysterious Cowl.  The Cowl is a criminal mastermind, with multiple powers at his disposal, and along with his sidekick Blackbird, he keeps the Seven Wonders on their toes.  We also meet Tony Prosdocimi, an average Joe who wakes up one morning to discover he himself has started to develop super powers. Christopher tells his tale through the POV of all these characters, and it moves the action along at a fast clip while illustrating the growth and changes each character goes through by the story's big climax.

Seven Wonders  greatly benefits from Christopher's knowledge of comic books; each chapter is as colorful and action packed as the panels would be if he were a comic book scribe.  The writing is concise, the pace is furious, and many of the chapters end with cliffhangers, compelling the reader to plow right along, unable to put the book down.  And the scope of the story gets bigger, keeping the reader engaged as the threat to San Ventura escalates to to a world wide call to arms to earth's other heroes, defunct and retired individuals still ready to band together and help the Seven Wonders protect the planet.

Adam Christopher has written a big love letter to the Golden and Silver Ages of comics with Seven Wonders.  His affection for the medium is evident, and he's taken that tried and true template and created something new that celebrates all the classic comic book tropes while also being a new and exciting entrant in the superhero genre.  It is truly just as exciting and daring as the other superhero blockbusters that preceded it this summer; it has the edge of your seat action of The Avengers, plus the chilling mystery of The Dark Knight Rises.

I firmly believe that Christopher has written the standard against which other superhero novels will be held  and is himself now coming into his own super-author powers.  Seven Wonders is a big, colorful joy to read and it shows that it was also a joy to write.  The author's love for the genre is stamped on each page and he has even left room for a sequel (or better yet, sequels!) as any good superhero adventurer should.  YES, believe all the hype, run to your favorite bookstore or click your favorite link and buy this book!  (Better yet, let me help!  BAM!  KA-POW!)  It just may be the most fun you're going to have this summer!

Superhero Month: Interview with ADAM CHRISTOPHER

If you read this blog enough, you will remember that I am a big Adam Christopher "fanboy".  His Twitter feed is both informative and entertaining and the wells of his knowledge of comic books/superheroes run deep.  And on top of all this, he is a brilliant writer!  His steampunk novella The Devil In Chains is a dark, Victorian-esque adventure and his debut novel Empire State was one of my favorite reads of 2011 (read review here).

Now today, he and Angry Robot are unleashing Seven Wonders upon the world, a big budget summer blockbuster movie in book form!  It is an action packed read and to help celebrate its release, Adam has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the book, share the origin of his love of comics and give us a glimpse of what's in store for him in the future!

#1) Today is the release day of your second novel SEVEN WONDERS, an action packed superhero adventure; congratulations!  Where did your inspiration come from for the book?  How far back does your affection for comics and superheroes go?

Adam Christopher: Seven Wonders came from an idea that I'd been kicking around for ages, ever since I'd really started to get into superhero comics.  This idea forms the central concept of the book-although I can't reveal what it is, as it's a little spoilerific!  That tends to be how I write-I have an idea, maybe just a single concept or sometimes a cool scene, one that bounces around in my head for quite a while before it feels like it's ready to be written.

But certainly Seven Wonders was inspired by my love of superhero comics.  Oddly enough, I never read comics as a kid and only started when I was about 25!  I did have an issue of Batman, an issue of Iron Man, and one of those Marvel character encyclopedia things that my dad bought me from a corner store en route to our regular Christmas vacation, sometime in the mid-1980s, and I remember being more interested in the encyclopedia-which was more text based, with biographies and statistics for all these wonderful and weird characters-than in the comics.

About ten years later, a friend of mine in high school was a big fan of 2000AD, and he used to read them at the back of the class, under his desk.  I remember enjoying the issues he loaned me at lunchtimes, but then time passed and I guess our interests moved on.  Around 2003 I was in a bookstore and saw the latest issue of 2000AD, and on a whim decided to pick it up.  It was every bit as good as I remembered, so I quickly subscribed.  After reading it for about a year, I ventured into my local bookstore, spurred on by the memories of those Batman and Iron Man comics I used to have, and grabbed a few random issues across both the Marvel and DC universes.  And I was hooked-even more so than with 2000AD, there was something about superheroes that really attracted me, like someone flicking a switch in my head.  And I've been reading ever since-probably more DC than Marvel, but superhero comics in general are my favorite form of literature.

#2) For me, both SEVEN WONDERS and EMPIRE STATE are very visual books; they're written in such a way that I couldn't help but picture all the action happening right in front of me, on my mind's IMAX screen!  Do you storyboard or sketch out scenes or characters as you're writing?

AC: Only in my head-I'm somewhere between a full outliner and a "pantster", working to a skeleton that is more like a list of events and scenes that need to happen from beginning to end.  I find that my characters tend to take on a life of their own (when things are going well anyway!) and do unexpected things, so trying to stick to a rigid outline doesn't work for me.  Likewise I don't spend too much time constructing character backstories or biographies, unless it is relevant to the story.

However, now that I think about it, I tend to visualise things with a comic book sort of structure in my head.  When I was writing, I tested some early chapters with an SF writers' group in Manchester, and I was surprised (pleasantly so!) when a couple of them said that the book felt like a graphic novel in prose form, saying that it was very easy to visualise the action, like reading a comic.  So it seemed that I was doing something right, even if it wasn't intentional-I was just trying to write the book as I saw it unfold in my mind!

The visual aspect of the story is even more important for something like Seven Wonders, because it's a superhero story (much more so than Empire State), and superheroes began in comics and are hugely successful as Hollywood blockbusters-both visual forms of storytelling.  Translating that aspect into successful prose is vital.

#3) Back in 2010 for, you wrote an article called "Superhero Fiction: The Next Big Thing?" that suggested signs were pointing to superhero fiction making a resurgence.  It's almost two years later; where do you think the genre is now?

AC: I think superhero fiction, like most trends, comes and goes, but at the moment I think we're entering a new resurgence of the genre.  There have been a stack of recent books-novels like Prepare To Die! by Paul Tobin and Turbulence by Samit Basu-so Seven Wonders has come along at a good time.  I hope there will be more, too because superheroes are really more popular than ever, thanks mostly to Hollywood.

#4)  For all the other Adam Christopher fanboys out there: what's next for you?  I'm personally very excited about HANG WIRE, which is set in my dream hometown of San Francisco and of course, the sequel to EMPIRE STATE, THE AGE ATOMIC...what else is coming down the pipeline?

AC: I'm almost done with the first draft of The Age Atomic, which is a lot of fun and has also turned into something of a monster-150,000 words and still going!  But that'll come down in the rewrite, I'm sure.  That's out in May 2013 and then Hang Wire is out a year later.  I'm looking forward to Hang Wire, which for once doesn't have any superheroes in it, being more of an urban fantasy with ancient gods and hidden powers (and sentient circuses) although it's a long way off!

Also in 2014, my first novel from Tor is coming out.  It's a dark space opera called Shadow's Call, and is set on a distant space station, bathed in toxic radiation from a nearby star, where a washed up Fleet commander must battle a sentient mechanical spider race and its sinister allies with the help of a long-dead Cosmonaut and a sexy but troubled asteroid miner.  I have my agent to thank for the blurb-I'm tempted to ask Tor if they'll make a "sexy but troubled" line of t-shirts as promotional merchandise!  Shadow's Call is a little different-it's more obviously science fiction, although it still has a lot of weirdness in it.  It's basically a ghost story set in space, set on a haunted space station-MR James writes 2001: A Space Oddyssey, maybe!

I've got a couple of other things in the pipeline, including my first foray into another medium.  But you'll have to wait until later in the year before I'm allowed to talk about that!

And finally, #5) Who are your dream director/dream stars of the SEVEN WONDERS blockbuster movie?!  :)

AC: Actually, Seven Wonders would be really interesting as a big budget superhero movie, because I can't think of many that are not based on existing superhero properties from Marvel or DC!  For director, I think that Joss Whedon has shown with The Avengers that he can handle an ensemble superteam with flair-that film is what I hope Seven Wonders is as well, in novel form.

Casting is tricky, as there are a lot of characters.  When I write, I tend to cast actors in the parts, so I can't help but see them as the characters now-Detective Sam Millar is Emily Rose, Joe Milano a cross between Idris Alba and Jon Huertas.  Tony has to be Milo Ventimiglia and maybe Liv Tyler as Jeannie.

For the Seven Wonders themselves-tricky!  Henry Czerny as Aurora, Erica Durance as Bluebell, Malcom-Jamal Warner as Linear (aged up!), Brian Blessed as Hephaestus, Christa B. Allen as The Dragon Star, Patricia Velasquez as Sand Cat.  SMART is difficult, seeing as it's a big honking robot...but perhaps Kevin Conroy could do the voice!

The Cowl, oddly enough, I see working well with Nathan Fillion in the role.

Hey, you said I could dream, right? 

Thank you so much, Adam for talking with me and I just know SEVEN WONDERS is going to enjoy great success!


Friday, August 24, 2012


If you are a lover of creepy, well told television or a die hard Ryan Murphy fanboy, then you've been waiting breathlessly for AMERICAN HORROR STORY to come back for it's second season, just like I have!  And from what I've read on the 'net, it's going to be everything the amazing first season was and more!  Uber genius Murphy and the FX network have been releasing promo clips for the upcoming season, titled "Asylum" (due to the season's location and storyline) and they are creepy as Hell!  I am counting the days til the show premieres in October!  Here are the clips, enjoy!

If you follow the show, you know Ryan Murphy likes to plant "Easter eggs" and clues for the fans to pick up on and try to guess what's going to happen next and to whom.  So taking in these clips, it's safe to say that ASYLUM is going to be a really intense storyline.  We know the incomparable Jessica Lange is returning as a nun running the titular asylum and I'm guessing repression, possession and A LOT of sex are going to figure throughout the show.  And what is with these buckets of meat...?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In My Mailbox

So happy to receive some Angry Robot awesomeness today!

Thanks, Angry Robot!

(makes obeisance to Robot Overlords)


In what seems like the longest wait since the anticipation of Christopher Nolan finishing his Batman trilogy, the new YA imprint from Angry Robot, STRANGE CHEMISTRY, is set to launch on August 23rd!  I know many of you, like me, have been waiting (im)patiently for the first books to come down the pipeline, thus confirming that the Strange Chemistry brand will continue the tradition of genre blurring excellence and originality started with Angry Robot.  

As a member of The Robot Army, it's been exciting to see the blogosphere already abuzz with positive reviews and anticipation of the launch titles and you will of course start seeing reviews here before long.  I've been consciously trying to expand my reading horizons lately and with Angry Robot taking the plunge into YA fiction, I asked myself what better time for me to do the same?!

For now, and to prepare for the upcoming launch, here are the covers for the anticipated first titles coming soon from STRANGE CHEMISTRY; enjoy!

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond (September 2012)

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.
Shift by Kim Curran (September 2012)

When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

And coming in October 2012:
Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection.
In fact, there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to the spell Endless Night. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. And when Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together. To break the curse, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks—all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic, and the growing romantic tension between them.
And for release in November 2012:
Katya's World by Jonathan L Howard

The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent. Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career. There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: YOU WILL MEET A STRANGER FAR FROM HOME by Alex Jeffers (Lethe Press)

I came across Alex Jeffers quite by accident earlier this year, and having just completed his short story collection You Will Meet A Stranger Far From Home, I'm glad to say the accident was a happy one!  As I've said before, I thoroughly enjoy singe author short story collections because they are such a great way to introduce myself to an author I am unfamiliar with, sort of like a meeting for coffee to get to know someone you've just met.  And You Will Meet A Stranger... is definitely a great first date. 

Wheat, Barely, Lettuce, Fennel, Blood for Sorrow, Salt for Joy, besides being quite the mouthful of a title, is a beautifully written story that blends ancient myth with familial relationships and youthful romance.  Young Luke goes on a sailing trip with his father and stepmother and meets the beautiful Levent, a young Adonis that works on the boat.  A lovely opener to the collection.

The Arab's Prayer  is a story of two lovers caught between culture and politics and their devotion to one another.  I liked this piece very much and felt for the character of Mus'ad and sympathized with his conflict...

Then We Went There starts off as a tale of bullying and the young man who acts to stop it, then transforms itself into a story of magic and the mysterious Court of the Air.  While I did enjoy the story, I wish it would have been a longer piece, further exploring the world of the Court.  Perhaps Jeffers will return to that world someday...

The next two entries were my favorites in the collection and I'm combining them here since they share a main character, the merchant Haider.  Firooz and his Brother introduces us to the infant Haider, when the young man Firooz comes upon him abandoned in a wood, save for a mysterious black dog.  Haider becomes the brother and sometime lover of Firooz and it is through that love that Haider gives Firooz the ultimate gift.  In  Haider and his Dog we follow Haider and his constant companion Iman the black dog to another world where they are strangers in a strange land and looked upon with superstition.  Here, they come upon a seemingly deserted city,only to find something deadly waiting for them.  These two tales reminded me instantly of the early work of Tanith Lee.  I could breath and taste the worlds that Jeffers created in these two short pieces and again, I hope he explores further the adventures of Haider and Iman, for I felt the two stories here bookended which has to be a wealth of tales.  

Turning tells the story of the prostitute Serkan, bitter and with no family...until the day the cousin who wronged him comes back into his life.  I was entertained but felt the denouement came too abruptly.

Jannicke's Cat is straight science fiction.  In it, in a world where female children are no longer born, one of the last women in the world comes across an old childhood toy and her memories drive her to show her family the world that came before them.  The story started slowly for me but as it progressed, the pace picked up and I wound up enjoying it.

Liam and the Wild Fairy is another tale of a boy that doesn't fit in at school but not only does Liam have two dads, he also is a special boy with a special secret.  It is a gem of a story and the love between Liam and his father really brought a lump to my throat!

Ban's Dream of the Sea tells the story of Banto and the strange, amorous dreams that are affecting the citizens of the his city.  People are having dreams of beautiful, otherworldly lovers and then disappearing.  And now his sister is missing...Jeffers intertwines the story of Banto with the journal entries of a long ago admiral experiencing he same mystery and it makes for a very atmospheric tale.

Tattooed Love Boys close the collection with a bang, y'all!  It is a tale of beautiful boys, fluid sexuality and getting inked.  Emma and her insecure brother Theo are on vacation with their parents when they come upon a local boy named Raf and his tattoo shop; what follows is a tale of transformation and strange desires, gender swapping and magic and it is a mind bending tale indeed!

You Will Meet A Stranger Far From Home is a pleasure to read from start to finish and Alex Jeffers is a talented writer.  Fans of weird and speculative fiction will find something to delight in on every page and it is also a great find for readers of short, well written story collections.  Highly recommended!

Happy reading!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Further Adventures of STEAMDUCK!


From the creator's of Her Majesty's Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story comes word that Steamduck is getting his own book, Steamduck Learns To Fly !!

Here's the press release:

"Author Emilie P. Bush and illustrator William Kevin Petty are proud to announce the release date of the follow up to their bestselling children's book Her Majesty's Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story.  On October 10, 2012, the waddling hero of HME - Steamduck - returns with another adventure in Steamduck Learns to Fly! 

In this new tale, the plucky mechanical duck discovers that REAL birds do more than swim. He turns to his old friend and maker - the Otter - to learn a few things about flying. They try and fail with propeller contraptions, hot air balloons and more. Despite all the mishaps, the pair eventually defy gravity and take to the sky. 

“With the success of Her Majesty’s Explorer, we thought long and hard about where we wanted to go with our darling characters. Steamduck has quite a following, and we wanted to make sure he was true to his heroic nature. Kevin is a pilot, and a huge fan of flight history, so we went with those ideas for our second Steamduck story,” says Emilie P. Bush.  “So, as he tries and fails with many different types of flight, he never gives up, and he never stops learning.”

Fans wanting to keep up with details and sneak peek images from Steamduck Learns to Fly! can follow the project on Facebook – as Steamduck has his own fan page. "

I enjoyed Her Majesty's Explorer very much and especially the character of Steamduck, so this was great news!  I'm very much looking forward to the new adventure!

Short Fiction Month: GREEN THUMB by Tom Cardamone (BrazenHead)

About the book:

Mutability blooms in the Florida Keys after the Red War. The genie boxes created King Pelicans with single human hands to rule the ruins of half-drowned Miami…and other, stranger persons. Slavers roam the deep waters offshore, taking captives to feed the voracious Kudzu Army and the human aqueduct bearing fresh water from Lake Okeechobee. On the last stretch of the Overseas Highway still standing, an albino seeress prophesies: “You will reach for the sun while staying rooted to the ground. But I fear your shadow will be much too long.”

Misunderstanding time, Leaf has lived for decades alone in a collapsing Victorian house on a desolate sandy key, feeding on sunlight and dew. When at last he meets a boy like—but so unlike!—himself, Leaf’s startling journey begins.

And what an journey it is!  What Tom Cardamone has achieved with Green Thumb is create a unique, post-apocalyptic world unlike anything that I've ever read before and populated it with a cast of characters that I was immediately taken with; by the end of the book, I was reading at hyper speed so I could find out what happened to Leaf and his companions!

I could not help but become totally immersed in Green Thumb; Cardamone writes beautifully and his world building here is amazing.   With every step that Leaf and his companion Scallop take, Cardamone exposes more of the drowned world they journey through, letting it unfold like a poisonous flower.  And danger lurks around every corner!  Slavers, pirates, dive boys; they all want a piece of the innocent Leaf and when his friends are unable to protect him, he has to grow up and in the process learns more about himself than even he knew lay within him.

And let's talk about the boys!  Leaf, Scallop and Hardy are characters I became quite engaged with.  I thrilled to their adventures, despaired when they were in trouble and even became disappointed in them at times.  These are young men that have had to grow up too soon in this harsh world, especially in the case of Leaf, but even in making the wrong decisions,  they can own their fate and keep going.  For better or worse, each one is changed and there is renewal and hope.

I absolutely loved Tom Cardamone's Green Thumb.  In it he creates a world that leaps off the page and that I long for him to explore further, as I believe there are many, many more tales to be told.  The lush language and escalating pace kept me hooked til the end and again, I was so engaged with the characters that I needed to know what happened to them and was both satisfied and surprised by the ending.

I heartily recommend Green Thumb to anyone who enjoys a well written story, alive with vivid imagery and told in a strong, clear voice.  I applaud Tom Cardamone on what he's achieved with Green Thumb and also BrazenHead for giving this wonderful work of speculative fiction a home, so the rest of us might also be cast under its spell!  Happy reading!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Short Fiction Month: Stories from EMPIRE STATE (Angry Robot Worldbuilder)

When the robotic publishing geniuses at Angry Robot released the mind bending book Empire State (see review here) by Adam Christopher, they also launched the collaborative project website WorldBuilder.  Here any and all fan creators who could write, paint, draw, sculpt or what have you, were invited to play in Christopher's noir alternate New York and create other, new works based on his novel, all with the blessing of Christopher and Angry Robot.

As I am such a fan of author AND book, I thought it would be fun and interesting to read and review the short fiction pieces that other artists have created in Empire State.  If you are wondering what it would be like to stretch your own creative muscles in the Empire State, you can find out how here and can also check out what other artists have done.

Now on to the stories!

First up is "The Biggest" by Hugo, Nebula and Locus award winning author James Patrick Kelly.  In his first ever superhero story, Kelly introduces us to Filbrick Van Loon, or "The Stilt", an earnest young man traveling to New York City to try to find his fortune in the big city after the loss of his mother.  What he finds is indeed the chance of a lifetime, but fame comes with a high price.  Kelly seems to be enjoying himself here and even ties in a well known event in NYC "history" with Van Loon's story.  "The Biggest" fits very nicely into the Empire State universe.

"This Here Empire State Ain't Mine" by Renee Parker is a short piece that works more as an introduction to her characters Emma Weston and Wilma Easton; I'd love to see more of their adventures together.  Again, it's a short piece but such is Parker's writing that her characters and their history are very intriguing.  They also seem to have living in the Empire State down pat, so you find yourself wanting to know how they manage and what happens next...more please, Renee!

"The Alienist and the Showgirl" by Keith Harvey is a darker entry into the Empire State universe.  It tells the story of Dr Josef Kleinthaler, chief psychiatrist at New York City's Bellevue Hospital and a strange young woman he becomes fascinated with, one Dorothea Stern, who claims to be from somewhere called...the Empire State?  With cameo appearances from Albert Einstein, a certain trio from L Frank Baum's classic Oz books and the War of the Worlds broadcast by Orson Welles, Harvey expertly plays up the paranoia of shadowy government agencies trying to cover up the existence of another world.  My favorite of the bunch!

"When Her Ship Came In" by Jeff Macfee deals with bootlegging and Prohibition in the Empire State; with nowhere to source its liquor from, the Empire State is dry as a bone and an desperate woman named  Pauline Tulley takes a bad situation and turns into her advantage, becoming a force to be reckoned with...but would her hard won position be enough to keep her safe from the reach of her criminal husband?  I enjoyed Macfee's story very much, and liked that Pauline was a woman who wasn't afraid to do what she had to survive in the strange new world of the Empire State; very entertaining!

This group of stories set in Empire State are all very different, yet very engaging takes on the world Adam Christopher has created.  Each author did their homework and stayed true to the tone and style of the original work and are worthy additions to Christopher's alternate New York.  I hope other, equally talented writers also take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and continue to play in the Empire State.  After all, it's a big, wide world to play in...

Or is it?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Short Fiction Month: 8 POUNDS: Eight Tales of Crime, Horror & Suspense by Chris F Holm (Poisonville Press)

Chris Holm first came to my attention as the author of the acclaimed noir fantasy Dead Harvest, from Angry Robot Books.  And now having completed his short story collection 8 Pounds: Eight Tales of Crime, Horror & Suspense, I can see what all the hubbub is about!

First off, let me say that 8 Pounds is an outstanding collection of stories.  Yes, these are tales of crime, horror and suspense but Holm infuses each piece with such atmosphere that it flows effortlessly from one story into another without jarring the reader from their experience.  It is a collection that needs to be read and reread often.

As always, I like to try to talk about each story individually, so let's go:

Both "Seven Days of Rain" and "The World Behind" have the flavor of vintage Stephen King, each blending the past with the present as the protagonists recall childhood memories and things better left undisturbed come to light. Holm expertly layers the atmosphere in these tales, keeping the reader engaged until the climax comes and hits them between the eyes.  Well done.

In "A Better Life" what I first thought of as a predictable new-couple-moving-to-the-country story really threw me for a loop at the end.  The increasing sense of foreboding builds and builds and the ending is both gruesome and horrific.

"A Simple Life" is a prime example of Holm's mastery of writing a great pulp story.  It follows a very unsympathetic character getting himself deeper and deeper into a very sticky situation for the affections of the very pretty femme fatale.  Again, a great story.

"The Toll Collectors" takes a hit-man from a classic noir yarn and drops him into a ghost story that turns into a revenge tale where his past sins come back to haunt him he finally gets his just desserts.

My favorite piece in the collection is the title cut, "8 Pounds".  And I hesitate to say anything as I don't want to give too much away but this story here is worth the price of admission alone.  Holm slowly (agonizingly) ratchets the tension up, up and just when you think you can breath again-BAM!! he lets you have it!  LOVED IT!

"The Well" is the little sister to "8 Pounds".  I definitely place them both squarely in the horror set of these tales but "The Well" is a much shorter, moody piece but the ending is just as satisfying.

And finally "The Big Score" is a story of double and triple crosses that I read through at light speed, so engrossed was I in lobsterman Mike Mallory and the trouble he finds himself in when he is mistaken for another fisherman who has something that two very unscrupulous treasure hunters want.  Again, Holm stages this story nicely and it is the most action packed of the set.

I cannot recommend this collection highly enough.  Usually I seek out short story collections as an introduction to an author's work but with 8 Pounds Chris Holm has made me want to try an entire new genre on for size.  My crime/noir/pulp reading is very infrequent but if there are writers out there producing stuff like this, stuff like Chris Holm, then I may have to take a longer, keener look at what's out there.  Thank you Chris Holm, for not only entertaining me with 8 Pounds but for showing me that dark, well written fiction can come in many, many forms.

(Book 2/10 toward the Horror/Thriller Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by Sweeping Me ).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Short Fiction Month: LOVECRAFT EZINE #14 edited by Mike Davis

The Lovecraft eZine is a monthly online magazine devoted to publishing Lovecraftian horror.  Publisher and editor Mike Davis says the goal of the magazine is and always will be to publish free, quality Lovecraftian fiction every bit as good as in print anthologies.  As a newcomer to Lovecraft and his work, I have found Davis and his magazine an invaluable source and inspiration.  So when I decided to feature a "Short Fiction Month" on the blog, it was a no brainer for me to include Issue #14, a special issue with stories written by women and featuring female protagonists.

As Silvia Moreno-Garcia states in the introduction, women have not had a huge place in Lovecraftian fiction, although this is changing.  She points out that writers and artists like Caitlin R. KiernanAnn K. Schwader and Galen Dara are exploring and reshaping Lovecraftian fiction, expanding its fan base and ensuring that it will be relevant far into the 21st century.

Issue #14 opens with "A Beer and Tentacles" by Holliann Kim, a pretty straight forward urban fantasy where an ex lover's revenge is slowly driving a man to question his sanity and the woman scorned is quite more than what she seems; it is the most light hearted of the pieces here but I did feel bad for the poor chap, knowing what kind of end he was coming to...

"Now She Preys Through Endless Days" by Jenna M Pitman is my favorite story of the issue; the author picks through all the usual Lovecraft tropes and comes up with a tale that utilizes the best of them.  Pitman gives us an ageless cosmic entity that is biding her time amongst puny humans, being worshipped by them,  and gathering her strength for the day when she shall escape her prison and strike back at those that set her adrift...

"Fiesta of Our Lady" by Ann K Schwader is a gorgeous poem that conjured such vivid images for me; it is also another favorite of mine. After reading and rereading it, I kept wishing it was a much longer piece so I could lose myself more deeply in this story of an ancient "serpent-skirted" Lady from before the time of Man.  Ms Schwader's poem packs a big punch with just a small amount of words and I found myself online right away, looking to get more of her stories so I might continue to be transported...

"God Serum" by Wendy N Wagner takes the Lovecraft Mythos into a post-apocalyptic future and Ms Wagner's world building is impressive; so much so that I hope she explores it further and gives us more of the history of this world and of "The Unraveling".  

"Drive, She Said" by Tracie McBride brings the special issue of the Lovecraft eZine full circle with another story that takes the Mythos to the streets; an unsuspecting taxi cab driver picks up a very strange fare and what happens after will wind up haunting him for the rest of his days.  A very satisfactory close to a wonderful collection of stories!

I want to congratulate Mike Davis on what he's done with Issue #14; he's assembled varied and entertaining stories by some great writers here and shown that women do have a place in Lovecraftian fiction that they more than deserve. Mission accomplished, sir!

*And if you're looking for an introduction to Lovecraft and his Mythos, I would encourage you to seek out and support the magazine!  Yes, it is free to read online but it does cost money to produce it.  You can learn more about supporting the magazine here and even how to get past issues for your Kindle, Nook or iPad here.  Each month, reading the eZine is something that I and many others look forward to, so let's keep it going!

Happy reading!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Short Fiction Month: BALANCE by Peter Giglio (Evil Jester Press)

"...and with the Blast came a bug."

And so begins "Balance" by Peter Giglio.

I believe I've mentioned here on the blog that I am a big fan of zombies; in fiction, in movies, in television-you name it and I love it.  So when I came across "Balance" I dug right in, ready to jump into some exciting zombie action!

What I got was a novella that yes, has plenty of the zombie action one would expect, but also a story that has a surprising amount of heart and emotion.  "Balance" is a very unique, well written tale that easily stands head and shoulders above the rest of the moaning, shambling crowd.

Giglio's world building is detailed but he doesn't spend a lot of time with info dumping on his readers, instead keeping the pace brisk; this is a zombie apocalypse, after all.  But it with his characterization that Giglio makes "Balance" really shine.  There are six main characters in "Balance" and we get to see the story unfold from all their individual viewpoints.  Yet none of the characters are generic, uninteresting stereotypes; Giglio gives us fully realized people that we come to care about and whose outcomes we are totally invested in.  Then he takes it yet another step further and  applies a twist at the end that really slams home the emotional heart of the story (to say more would be to spoil it!).

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Balance" by Peter Giglio and you will, too.  It is a fast paced tale that offers a fresh take on some well trod zombie territory.

(This book counts towards the Zombie Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by Book Chick City AND the Horror/Thriller Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by Sweeping Me.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


From the web this week:

First, on the blog Bibliophilia, Please, an interview with Pushcart Prize nominated novelist, screenwriter and editor Peter Giglio which I thoroughly enjoyed; as a matter of fact, look for a review of Peter's "Balance" to kick off my "Short Fiction Month" here on the blog!

And also,via Aiden at A Dribble of Ink (the man has a great eye for finding all this beautiful artwork!), gorgeous interpretations of Disney movie posters by Rowan Stocks-Moore; here are my favorites:

Happy reading!