Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Hungry 2:  The Wrath of God (The Hungry, #2)The Hungry 2: The Wrath of God by Harry Shannon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was a kid, I loved movies like Aliens and Predator. A big reason for this was the awesome monsters that the military heroes had to kill. Another big reason was the character of the heroes themselves. At that time in my life, I had dreams of joining the military so I could go on similar adventures, albeit without the monsters, because in these movies along with some books I was reading, the heroic military men and woman were a lot like the monsters: bigger than life and stronger than any mortal man. Even when and if they died.

The beginning to Steven Booth’s and Harry Shannon’s sequel to the great The Hungry made me reminisce of those older movies and the emotions they summoned within my impressionable and young heart. In Wrath of God we first meet Rat and her team of military mercenaries who are on their way to Nevada for a mission with an odd catch. There are zombies in the desert, and their mission is of the upmost importance.

When we rejoin Penny Miller and crew, they are held up in a Las Vegas hotel by the military. General Gifford, however, has other plans for them. He offers the crew a deal that will see them out of Las Vegas with a crap load of money. All they have to do is join up with the mercenaries and return to the scene of the crime from the climax of the first book to retrieve some data.

Sounds easy, right? Penny doesn’t think so. In fact, she thinks that the deal stinks, and what follows is a one crazy and fun and entertaining moment after another.

What I liked most about Wrath of God is the fun factor. I would even go so far as to say that this volume is even more fun than the first. The characters remain true to themselves as they did in the first, and the new characters, mainly Rat, another hard-edged, ass-kicking female protagonist, was a lot of fun to read. Yet, some of the mercenary’s felt a little flat to me, reminding me of hulk-like men, doing what their told while grunting their displeasure and scratching at their privates.

There were also a few scenes at the end that just didn’t seem very realistic to me, but with that said, I am reminded of Sigourney Weaver hanging from one arm in a decompression airlock opened to the big black abyss of space. Large metal crates whip quickly by her head from the vacuum, and yet Sigourney’s harm does not tear off at the shoulder. I also remember Arnold Swartzaneggar stumbling out of the remnants of an explosion equal to that of a nuclear bomb with nothing more than a limp. Sure, his mind was completely gone, but he was relatively unharmed. Right?

It’s these things that made these heroes larger than life and worth every inch of my childhood admiration. And I would argue that it’s the same with the heroes in The Wrath of God. They’re as tough as metal, and one would want to double check their sanity in messing with them.

Oh yeah, and there’s lots of Zombies.

How could you possibly want more?

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Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Haunted by Bentley Little

The HauntedThe Haunted by Bentley Little
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Despite its bleakness, Bentley Little's newest, The Haunted, was a lot of fun to read. Although Little is known for his sense of humor, I warn you to not look for that here. This is a book that is dark, bleak, and full of despair as the Perry family loses control of their average, every day lives.

The story is about an innocent family haunted by their new house, but it reminded me of self-abuse spinning out of control, the unknown anger and angst of adolescence, the fear and desperation of a child stuck in a family haunted by its past and current abuses. And this is without any of those subjects taking center stage.

We start off with the Perry family looking to move out of what they feel is becoming a bad neighborhood. Had they known what they were in for, perhaps they would have stayed and put up with the bully kids, the ones who use the Perry family's driveway for skate board practice without permission. Now that they have moved, however, they're trapped in debt and stuck with a ghost, or maybe it's some other entity, that's physically abusive and life threatening.

This book is about the love and hate of a family (that innocent family with the average lives I mentioned earlier), invaded by unknown forces. It's a book about what's not in your control, and how what's good and average can turn to bad and abnormal at any time.

As this is a haunted house book, there's nothing really new here. Yet, the haunted house book has been written regularly for close to two hundred years now, so what are looking for? Something groundbreaking?

I don't think so.

Give The Haunted a try. Its got some real creepy moments that's excluded from a lot of other horror novels. I highly recommend it.

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Friday, 11 May 2012

Absinthe for the Beginner

buy absinthe online
Buy Absinthe

The first time I tried Absinthe was a mistake. A big one. First off, I was not, obviously, a serious and experienced absinthe drinker, and so went with the strongest recipe I could find to mix it. The night that followed wasn't a complete nightmare or anything, but was certainly regrettable.

Let me backtrack a little before continuing. A friend of mine ordered the Absinthe from Original Absinthe, which ships anywhere in the world, as far as I know. He ordered one bottle for me and one for himself. When our order came in, I paid for my half and we set to drinking the first weekend we both had available. First, however, we hit the liquor store, as offered on the Original Absinthe's site, along with a neat little booklet that came with the shipment, are recipes. One of these recipes calls for 1/2 Absinthe to 1/2 brandy.

The Absinthe of my choice was the Absinthe Original, which is 70% alcohol and 15 mg of thujone--thujone A.K.A wormwood that makes absinthe absinthe. Stupid and naive, my friend and I headed to that liquor store and bought some brandy, which is typically 40% alcohol. I knew, somewhere deep in my mind while making that purchase that I was making a mistake, but I was excited. I had wanted to try absinthe for a long long time, and that night was to be the very awe inspiring night I had dreamed of for years.

It didn't happen that way. Not in the least.

We then headed for the grocery store, where my friend bought a couple of cans of Redbull, the energy drink.

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

If not, then let me indulge you. We got back to my friend's house where we commenced some intense video game playing. At first, I remember wondering when the drinking would start. We played Mortal Combat and some zombie killing game, which name eludes me right now. Finally, around ten or eleven o'clock, we broke the seals of our emerald-filled bottles.

Right away, I mixed my Absinthe with the brandy. The taste was surprisingly good, if a little strong to my inexperienced tongue. Also a little bitter, so after a couple of drinks, my friend suggested putting some Redbull in with the insane concoction. Actually, looking back, I think that I asked him for some of his Redbull to mix in. Whatever the case, this mixture was the beginning of the end.

We continued to play video games, where my hand-eye coordination continued to consistently fail more and more as the night went on.

It was around here, somewhere between midnight and one o'clock, where I blacked out.

After this are only snippets of memory. I remember moving to another room, where there was a bigger television to play our video games. I also slightly remember pouring absinthe from one bottle into another to prove that I was still sober enough to do such difficult things.

In the end, my friend called Jen, my girlfriend/wife, and then a cab. He accompanied me in the journey home, before of which I had fallen and smashed my eye on a concrete slab in his driveway while waiting. I remember nothing of this, nor do I remember the drive home. I also don't remember him and Jen carrying me into my house and setting me on my reclining chair. I am very glad that I don't remember when I started vomiting.

It was an experience that could have been good, but turned out to be a bad one. And it was all my fault. I took it too far. In short, I held absolutely no respect for the green fairy. You can bet that she kicked the shit out of me for it.

The next thing I remember is waking up on my recliner. It was like returning from the dead. One moment, there was nothing but darkness, oblivion. Next moment, I'm awake with a quick inhalation of oxygen, my eyes fluttering in confusion. It was noon, and the sun was shining through the living room window, blinding and painful. It did nothing to burn away the suspicion and dread that something bad had happened.

The fact that my wife, Jen, was sleeping on the couch beside me only intensified this dread.

She told me the story of my foolishness soon after waking, and it is a story not without its message: Treat the absinthe, the green fairy, with respect and she will respect you back. You go in head first like a fool, and she will kick your sorry ass.

For a good six months following, I was completely turned off from absinthe. Even the smell repulsed me. But soon I warmed up to it again, stealing weak drinks here and there, and experiencing the strong drink perhaps as it should be with a novice such as I. I have even gone as far as to buy more, weaker absinthe, in the hopes of reconnecting to my old fascination with the taboo liquor.

It has worked.

And I urge anyone who has the same inclinations, for absinthe is well known within any Gothic, horror, painter, artistic, scene--nearly any world of creation has had its romance with the emerald queen--to take it easy the first time. Start with one or two drinks only. I highly recommend the 1/2 shot to 4 or 5 ounces water with a cube or two of sugar--should you be lucky enough to have gotten an absinthe spoon.

And if you are a first time absinthe drinker, do indeed start with a weaker version of absinthe, such as Absinthe Original Innocent--which is made for novice absinthe drinkers--but no stronger than Absinthe Original Bitter Spirit. You will thank yourself in the end. Because I nearly ruined my experience with Absinthe by jumping in headfirst without first checking for rocks and other such fatal obstacles.

You treat absinthe with respect, then she will respect you back. This I promise.

Happy drinking!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Hive by Griffin Hayes

Hive (No Man's Land Series, #1)Hive by Griffin Hayes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m pretty sure that I’ve said this before, probably on one of my opinionated articles on a Harry Shannon book, but the zombie subgenre is getting old. It surprises me how it just keeps on ticking without even a sign of it slowing down. The subgenre, in itself, is like a slumbering, moaning creature that should be dead but keeps on coming. A zombie of which you cannot shoot in the head, no matter how hard you try, and put an end to the whole thing.

But saying such things makes me a hypocrite. I still read about zombies, even though I’m tired of them. But every once in a while, an author has an interesting idea, or something new they can offer to an over-bloated genre, and I think that Hive, by Griffin Hayes, is quite possibly that. I say possibly, because Hive is just the very beginning of a new series, and the story itself, an action packed romp through a long abandoned mall, packs some serious heat.

Taking place two-hundred years after the initial zombie apocalypse, Azina and her team are sent into said mall after a group of Prospectors have gone missing. Somehow, and I’m not sure why, the story reminded me of Aliens, and I couldn’t help but think of the character, Bron, played by Ron Perlman. Which brings me to Griffin’s strength, of which seems to have even improved since the first book I’ve read by him, Malice. His strength is in his characters. They all have their own personalities and never stray from what is at their inner core. They feel like real people. And they are fun to follow.

The only thing that bothered me about Hive was the first-person, present-tense narrative. Although it worked for the most part, there were times where it felt like the story should have been told in the past-tense. It seemed as though it might have been written the first time around in the past-tense and then was switched to the present-tense for whatever reason.

But seriously, all nitpicks aside, if you’re looking for a fun time with the ancient undead, I implore you to give Hive a try. It’s cheap, it’s short, and most implortantly, it’s terribly fun. I’m excited to see where this series is going and what Griffin will do with these characters he’s created. Come along for the ride. It’s bound to be interesting.

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Cthulhu Comes to Vampire Kingdom

Lola and Franz’s baby has just died and the world is coming to an end. Sunlight threatens to shine once again upon the land, and the vampires weigh this as burdensome as most of us humans do global warming. The vampires having treated their planet so poorly over the centuries is causing this cursed sunlight to shine through. On top of that, vampire blood supply is at an all-time low.

There’s a way to put a stop to this. The answer is summoning Cthulhu and his minions of darkness to put the sunlight away forever. They also have scientists, working at a way to create an endless supply of blood.

I had mixed feelings about this bizarro book by Cameron Pierce. The twisted way in how Lola and Franz react to finding their baby dead is the sick sort of humor I love, sort of like a darker version of the Addam’s family. The rest of the story, however, felt sort of rushed with an interesting, but hardly formidable version of Cthulhu, who is currently on a quest to find the perfect hamburger and, of course, put an end the vampires who have summoned him.

Cameron’s prose was solid and entertaining to read, though. He reminds me of a bizarro version of Christopher Moore and A. Lee Martinez, which is an accomplishment on its own.

All in all, Cthulhu in Vampire land is a fun and entertaining read.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Publishing After The Apocalypse: I met Jason on Goodreads last fall soon after publ...

I was a guest blogger at Publishing After The Apocalypse. In it, I tell of my experiences thus far in the big, scary world of self-publishing. Check it out! My thanks to Griffin Hayes for inviting me to do this.

To read my guest blog post, just click the link below:

Publishing After The Apocalypse: I met Jason on Goodreads last fall soon after publ...: I met Jason on Goodreads last fall soon after publishing Malice. So when I discovered he'd joined the indie ranks with the release of his fi...

Friday, 20 January 2012

You Shall Never Know Security

You Shall Never Know SecurityYou Shall Never Know Security by J.R. Hamantaschen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The type of story within You Shall Never Know Security is a favorite of mine to read, so my opinion on J. R. Hamantaschen could be considered biased. The stories are weird and very dark. They’re also intelligent and linger in your thoughts after reading. I found that I had to stop sometimes just to digest what I had just read.

You Shall Never Know Security is full of raw emotion and themes that are the obvious result of some very deep thought. Each story is actually about something. They are real even at their most absurd. They’re topics has affected us all one way or another. They can be terribly sad or angry, but around the middle of the collection there is one comedic story that does well in relieving the tension.

The stories that had the most effect on me are as follows: Endemic is, perhaps, one of the strangest stories I’ve ever read. It poses an interesting approach to catching rapists. A Parasite in Your Brain makes me want J. R.’s version of a parasitic spider to stretch its legs out amongst the folds of my own brain. Truth is Stanger than Fiction paid homage to Lovecraft, I think, and very well done. Sorrow has its Natural End is, perhaps, the story that affected me the most. It’s about a man in his twenties whose gone blind. His dark spiritual journey is probably similar to what mine would be if I were to go blind. College is about a professor who asks his student some very interesting morality questions in an experiment that reminded me of a course I took while in college myself.

With this collection, J. R. manages to remind the reader of Lovecraft and Ligotti, while at the same time remaining completely faithful to his own ideas, themes, and voice. What it comes down to is this: as a writer myself, one who also aspires create weird horror, reading these stories made me a little jealous. Okay, I lie. They made me a lot jealous. I wish I could write at Hamantaschen’s calibre and level of talent. I look forward to reading more.

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Monday, 16 January 2012

The Menstruating Mall

The Menstruating MallThe Menstruating Mall by Carlton Mellick III

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember watching a documentary on the making of Dawn of the Dead somewhere. On it there is mentioned something to the effect that Romero’s genius lay within his calling out the suddenly present consumerist age with the advent of the shopping mall. Of course his vision was spot on. Watching the hoards of mindless, slow and limping undead approach the mall had a sort of sardonic sarcasm that has not lost its impact today.

If anything, consumerism has become worse, perhaps making Romero a prophet. If so, where does that leave Carlton Mellick and his book The Menstruating Mall?

The hero of the story seems like a regular guy. He works a dead-end job, he is single, and he is completely obsessed with going to the mall. This guy’s obsession, however, makes him work a lot of overtime just so he can spend more money. He is a marketing campaign’s wet dream. When we meet him, he is going into his favorite place in the entire world: the mall, of course.

After filling his hands with bags full of products, he’s happy. Only there’s one problem. He can’t leave the mall. No matter how often he tries, something stops him. There’s no road block and the doors are not locked, yet he cannot leave.

Later on, he meets people with the same problem. When the mall closes and doesn’t reopen, some of the stranded turn up dead. One of them is killing the others for being part of the herd, and the killer’s message is simple: Break your mold, don’t be mundane.

I think that The Menstruating Mall is a satire on the level, if not higher, with Romero’s horror genius. It’s the whole Breakfast Club feel to the story, with each character having their own and modern style, and that all have to work together despite their differences to achieve a goal that just might save their lives, which led me to this conclusion. You can see yourself somewhere in one or more of the characters and therefore see how absurd it all seems.

And yet we continue on every day, living our chosen stereotypes and buying crap we don’t need. We will continue to do so until we pound the Earth to ash with all the nukes our leaders have collected over the years.

Until then, I suggest that you buy this book, even if it’s something you don’t need for your survival. It is, after all, a lot of fun and entertaining. That’s all that matters, really.

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Island of the Super People

Island of the Super PeopleIsland of the Super People by Kevin Shamel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had some reservations about reading Island of the Super People at first. To be honest, I’m not all that into superheroes, which is a strange thing to say in this day and age. But to be fair, I decided to give Kevin Shamel’s book a chance.

And I’m glad I did.

What I was expecting versus what I got were two separate things. I expected the book to be a form of cheap entertainment with very little in the way of story or characterization. And yes, before you go and start accusing me, I know that I can be a bit of a book snob sometimes. But who among us bibliophiles aren’t snobbish in one way or another? For me, it was the fact that the story took place on an island populated by super heroes. Yes indeed. We even had a tribe of both heroes and villains.

What I wasn’t expecting was for this book to completely and utterly seduce me into manic reading sessions, my eyes bulging, my skin greasy with sweat, my brain twirling with the need to know what would happen next.

Trent, our hero (pun intended), is studying anthropology and is on Super Hero island with his class to observe the hero species’ culture. We go along with him in monitoring what turns out to be a well-developed and fascinating people. I had a lot of fun following Trent as he failed and succeeded in his various assignments, and how he fought his way through what would become a violent and bloody war between the heroes and villains and a mysterious human military unit.

What Island of the Super People manages to do, at least in my estimation, is bring about an interesting way of life that the heroes share. It’s tribal, it has its own rules and dimensions, and some of the super heroes and villains superpowers are just downright cool.

If you like a lot of action while maybe learning something, even if that something is fictional, then I highly recommend this book. There’s a lot of interesting culture from an interesting group of a people inside, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself completely captivated.

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