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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