Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: The Noctuary: Pandemonium - by Greg Chapman

4 of 5 Stars     Review Copy


I first read The Noctuary more than five years ago, so I was happy that Greg Chapman decided to incorporate the original novella in this new, longer, work based on his own source material.

It all starts when writer, Simon Ryan, begins conversing with his muse who reveals himself as Meknok, the thing in his dreams. Meknok offers Simon a rather unique opportunity.  To rewrite his own history.  Wow.  What a concept?  How many of us would love to put pen to paper and thereby change our lives for the better? More money, a better job, a more loving companion.  Sounds simple, but the reality is so much more complex.

In Pandemonium Simon Ryan has gone missing until one day a manuscript, purportedly written by the awol writer, shows up at the office of his former Psychiatrist, Dr. Desmond Carter.

As a result, the Doctor's life is about to change, and not for the better, as all hell breaks loose.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Pandemonium as follows...

1  -  The capital of Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost
2  -  The infernal regions :  hell the demons of Pandemonium
3  -  Not capitalized :  a wild uproar :  tumult Pandemonium erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced.

After reading The Noctuary: Pandemonium it seems as if Chapman managed to roll all three of those definitions into one.

If you're tired of the same old horror story, add this one to your watch list and pick it up when it becomes available this November.

The Noctuary: Pandemonium will be published by Bloodshot Books.

From the author's bio - Greg Chapman is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated® and Australian Shadows Award-nominated author of Hollow House and the author of five novellas. His second novel, The Noctuary: Pandemonium, the sequel to his acclaimed 2011 novella, will be published by Bloodshot Books in late 2017.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Guest post: Greg Chapman: A few words on "Words"

Words

“Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Words have real power over me.

My life is defined by them.

Every day I write hundreds of words; not all of them are fiction (I work in public relations for a university), but I know how they can have an incredible amount of power over people’s perceptions of reality.

Think about how many thousands of words you are exposed to each day; by reading the newspaper, or scrolling through social media. The impact they can have upon your mental state is astounding. A half a dozen simple words can cheer you up or infuriate you. What about a 600-year-old Constitution, or a Bible? Do they confine or release you? The only thing for certain is that words define us all.

My latest novel, Pandemonium, the sequel to my 2011 novella, The Noctuary, is about the power of words, in particular, the words penned by one of the characters, an author named Simon Ryan. Ryan is a “dark scribe”, a soul chosen by a group of Dark Muses, to rewrite human lives to fulfill the Muses need to damn every living soul.

When I started to write Pandemonium I knew I wanted to push the boundaries of my original story and explore the very nature of words and how they can corrupt. All religion and philosophy is rooted in words and myth, with people first telling each other stories in darkened caves tens of thousands of years ago. Language and story are what separates us from all other species, but where did language come from?

This idea – and the philosophy of “good and evil” has always fascinated me. What if language was the root of all evil, or allowed us to “comprehend” the darkness within ourselves? This is all deep psychological stuff, hence the decision to make the central character in Pandemonium a psychiatrist. Through Dr. Desmond Carter – the psychiatrist who first treated Simon’s psychological scars – I explore these notions and retell The Noctuary all over again.

If you could retell your story, would you? If you could right a wrong, or undo a tragedy with the flick of a pen, would you? If you looked deep within yourself what would you find there? How much darkness might you find there? Where did it come from?

Even now, as you read these words, you are asking yourself these questions, influencing your thoughts.

What power do words have over you?
                                                                                                                                               
From the author's bio - Greg Chapman is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated® and Australian Shadows Award-nominated author of Hollow House and the author of five novellas. His second novel, The Noctuary: Pandemonium, the sequel to his acclaimed 2011 novella, will be published by Bloodshot Books in late 2017.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Ring of Fire - by Robert Ford

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

There are some writers I wish were getting more attention. Writers who have paid their dues and put out quality work, again and again, but still seem to remain in the background, underappreciated.  Robert Ford is one such writer.

Last year he published a novella called The Last Firefly of Summer, a bittersweet "story of first love, true love, the love where you would do absolutely anything for the other person. Anything."  One of my favorite novellas of 2016.

This year he offers up something completely different, as he returns to the world of Samson Gallows featured in his 2012 novella, Samson and Denial.  In Ring of Fire, Robert starts with an eloquent, if profanity laced, rant against infomercials, the medical industry, the media, and Gatlin, KY.  Not for the easily offended.

Here's a snippet describing the effects of the local meth trade in Gatlin, KY...

One guy smoked up and dragged his wife down to the train tracks, behind his farmhouse. Tied her up right to the rails, Dudley Do Right style. 'Course the train through Calverton stopped running years ago.  She spent the night getting bit by skeeters and when morning came she had some awful rope burns and looked like she had a bad case of the measles but was otherwise all right.

If you're looking for a rip-snortin' good time, pick up this quick read and follow the misadventures of one man just trying to get through a very bad day.

One more example of what you're in for...

I hustled into the drive and passed the first brown trailer on my left.  That's where the landlord, Betsy Aus, presided–and believe you me, she was some piece of work.  Late sixties and gardening braless in a tank top every afternoon when it was warm out.  Shorts cut to high heaven and her body the shape and condition of an overcooked apple dumpling. Gravity had certainly had a battle with Betsy's body and won.  It appeared as if two ferrets were sleeping inside her tank top.

Ring of Fire is difficult to pigeonhole into a specific genre but funny as hell and a damn good time. My only complaint is the story was way too short.  I would have loved to have read more.

At the end of Ring of Fire there's an excerpt from The Last Firefly of Summer,  I recommend you skip the excerpt and go buy that novella as well.  Although decidedly different I believe you'll enjoy both of these works from Robert Ford, a name worth remembering.

Ring of Fire is available in both paperback and for the Kindle.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Robert Ford writes stories that are always focused on the characters, first and foremost. Anything else just happens to be happening. "If I can write a story that makes the reader feel—laugh, or cry, or get angry or upset—if I can write an engaging story that involves the reader and hits them emotionally, then, and only then, have I done my job."

Previous works include The Last Firefly of Summer, The Compound, and Samson and Denial. Robert currently lives in central Pennsylvania.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review: Those Who Follow - by Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason (The Sisters of Slaughter)

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Twin sisters, Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason made quite a splash last year with their novel, Mayan Blue.  Now, the Sisters of Slaughter, as they are collective known, are back with a new novel called Those Who Follow.

Celia is a bit of a vagabond who is known to lose a day or a few days here and there thanks to her flask and the assortment of pills which were her constant companions.

There's no doubt her confusion contributed to her circumstance in the desert...

Scrambling from her hiding spot, she fled, cursing her limbs that seemed atrophied with fear.  A walking nightmare came bearing down on her with ungodly speed. The sound of the massive hound's paws tearing the dusty earth beneath it was second only to the thunderous pounding of her pulse in her ears.  The distance was closed in a matter of seconds and, as it leapt, she was flooded with defeat.

She awoke a captive in a church with a number of other women, each with a number carved into their forehead representing the year they were taken, the oldest was sixty-eight, Celia was fourteen.

Miles and worlds away lies Casey who is in an asylum and awakens with the number fourteen engraved on her forehead.  What does it all mean, who is the mysterious man who would be god holding these women captive in an abandoned church?

Those Who Follow features other dimensions and the ability to travel from one to another.  It also has one of the most bloodthirsty, villainous characters I've seen in quite some time.

It took me a bit to really embrace the story the sisters of slaughter were presenting here, but once I got up to speed I totally enjoyed the ride.

A dark, violent, and challenging tale which horror fans are sure to embrace.

Those Who Follow is available in both paperback and e-book formats from Bloodshot Books. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
                                                                                                                                             
From the authors' bio - Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason.are twin sisters from Arizona.  They have been dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter. They write horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Review: Congregations of the Dead (A Griffin and Price Novel) - by James A. Moore & Charles R. Rutledge

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Congregations of the Dead is the second collaboration in the Griffin and Price series written by James A.Moore & Charles R. Rutledge. The first being  Blind Shadows.  You often hear that it's not necessary to read the first book in a series and it's rarely true, but Congregations of the Dead really does work well as a standalone novel.

The central characters throughout the book are Sheriff Carl Price and Private Investigator Wade Griffin.  At the beginning of the book, the Blackbourne family (a pre-human race whom the Cherokee tribes of Georgia called "the Moon-Eyed ones") was up to its old tricks, trying to summon one of the outer gods to Earth.  Led by the family matriarch, Siobhan.  Thankfully, things did not go well.

The summoning had failed and the outer god had fallen back into the void, taking Siobhan with him.

But, wait.  There's more.

There's the story about a cretin called Tadpole who cozies up to single moms with young daughters and eventually sells the daughters into sex slavery.  Price and Griffin put an end to his shenanigans post haste.

But here's the big story. There's a pastor who's come to town by the name of Reverend Lazarus Cotton.  He's been holding outdoor revivals and seems to be tied to the disappearance of another young girl.

What Price and Griffin uncover may lead to their demise, unless they get help from a most unlikely source.

"'We might have to do something slightly illegal.'  'And wouldn't that be a shame?  Me being the Sheriff and all.' 'Scandalous.' 'I'll pick you up in half an hour, Wade. 'I'll be ready.'"

Imaginative, filled with wonderfully rich, fully- drawn characters.  Great pacing.  Terrific action scenes.  The story finds the heroes combating dark forces on multiple fronts.  And Jonathan Crowley, my favorite James A. Moore character, even has a cameo.

Here, the writers paint a perfect picture of Betty, a waitress at the Rabbit Hutch Diner...

The woman was in her fifties and looked like a long-time anorexic, but that was just the way she was built.  Her hair was exactly the color of red that comes from generic hair dye and her makeup brought to mind a few of the clowns he's seen the last time he went to the circus - not a comforting thought as he absolutely hated clowns - but aside from the artificial attempts to look twenty years younger she was a sweet lady.

Congregations of the Dead is great fun and I eagerly look forward to the next book in the series, A Hell Within.

Congregations of the Dead (A Griffin and Price Novel) is published by Cohesion Press and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the Authors' bios...

James A. Moore is the award winning author of over twenty novels, thrillers, dark fantasy and horror alike.  The author cut his teeth in the industry writing for Marvel Comics and authoring over twenty roleplaying supplement
s for White Wolf Games.  He is currently at work on several additional projects.

Charles R. Rutledge - After a couple of decades teaching karate, writing comic books, and spending way too much time reading mysteries, SF, horror, and assorted other genres of fiction,  decided it was time to actually turn out some fiction of his own. Charles is the co-author of three books in the Griffin and Price Urban Fantasy/Horror series, Blind Shadows, Congregations of the Dead, and the forthcoming A Hell Within, all written with James A.Moore.  A lifelong resident of Georgia, Charles lives in the Atlanta area where he is currently hard at work on other writing projects. He does have a cat, but writers always mention their cats so there you go.



Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: An Angel Fallen: A Supernatural Horror Novella - by Andy Graham

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

An Angel Fallen features two of the most unlikable, irredeemable characters in best buds Michael and Raph, and yet there is something special about this novella.

Raph likes to maim and kill neighborhood pets and Michael just goes along to watch, making him just a culpable in my eyes.

Raph and Mike were planning their next adventure which included poisoning the neighbor's dog and breaking its legs when something came tumbling out of the sky.

One might expect an angel to help this misguided duo to see the error of their ways, but that certainly wouldn't be much fun.

There are a couple of nice twists in Andy Graham's novella which makes it worth your time and money.  The writing style borders on poetic (I'm not a fan), but the story is good and redemption is not for everybody.

An Angel Fallen is currently available as an e-book.

From the author's bio - Andy Graham is a British author currently living in the Czech Republic who has two main collections of books: The Lords of Misrule is a series of dystopian political thrillers set in an alternate world based on life in 21st century EU/ US.  He also has an expanding collection of creepy reads that explore the darker side of life, death, and the undead. Outside of reading and writing, Andy is a musician, qualified osteopath, seasoned insomniac, and father to two young kids who have too much energy to let him grow old gracefully.



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Guest Post: Andy Graham - Author of An Angel Fallen on the matter of Self Publishing

Self-publishing’s dirty little secret.

Andy Graham

An Angel Fallen blog tour.

Want to know the dirty little secret in the self-publishing world?

Not everyone succeeds.

That’s it. Not exactly life-shattering news, but read on...

This dirty word of failure is obviously not limited to self-publishing. It applies across the board, from artists to software startups, but seeing as this is a blog for a book site, let me stick to the world of authors.

There are a lot of people selling the dream of ‘anyone can be an author’. Some are more scrupulous than others. In many respects, due to the onset of online publishing and the rapid advances in technology, the idea that anyone can be a self-published author if they have a keyboard and a router has never been truer.

The obvious downside to this is that there are a lot of people chasing the same dream, often using the same ideas and ‘tactics’ to try and get readers’ attention. This means the market place is flooded with books. Some are great. Some less so. Therefore, just like night needs day, left needs right, and Mother Abagail needs Randall Flagg (guess what book I’m reading at the moment!), you won’t get successful authors without unsuccessful ones. The former can’t exist without the latter. Stephen King (AKA The Man and a big hint to my earlier question) wouldn’t be a bestselling author if only his books existed. He would just be The Author.

So why do some people fail?

Ha! If I could sell guaranteed success, Donald Trump would be my butler and tweeting this blog 140 characters at a time! Covfefe, he would!

But, here’s my take.

It could be simply because the book isn’t good enough. I’ve read some books, both traditional and self-published, that have made me want to drown my kindle. A lot of those books also have rave

reviews. I’m hoping that’s just a matter of different tastes rather than scammy practices such as paying for reviews.

Maybe the author is not working enough.

Maybe the author’s not working at all.

Maybe the author is only writing. Writing a book is hard; promoting it is harder.

Maybe the writer fails to hit the public mood.

Is it because there are too many people trying to do the same thing?

Maybe Jeff Bezos has heard you dissing the mighty ‘Zon! No, not really. (Hi Jeff! If you’re reading this, love what you’ve done with Amazon. Orange has always been my favourite colour.)

Or is it just that the author’s advertising skills aren’t great? Let’s be honest, so much success is down to advertising skills rather than anything else. Before you start grumbling, I’m not saying that makes one’s success any less valid, nor that it applies to everyone who is doing well. All I am saying is that advertising and marketing are essential parts of any business.

It is the author’s job to deal with the above, and if he or she doesn’t address these to the best of their ability, then they are responsible for their own lack of success.

(There’s that word ‘success’ again. At times, for me, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel, at times it’s the light filtering down from the surface of the pond as I try and slip the concrete slippers off my feet.)

But, a successful author can only be a successful author with an audience and this is where you come in, dear reader.

How?

Simple.

If you like an author, please do something to demonstrate that.

Let’s go old-skool to start: Tell the author you liked their work. Message them through their social media page or contact page on

their website (we’ve all got them). Having someone take the time out to actually drop us a line is fantastic.

Tell a friend. It costs nothing to tell someone about a good book, and word of mouth is still the best form of advertising.

Share/tweet/forward a post you see on social media.

‘Like’ the book/author. That said, my own view on this is that likes and hearts and so on don’t actually make a big difference to the world. They feel nice, add a bit of weight to the post but change very little.

Feeling inspired? Write a short post on social media.

Leave a review. They help. Honestly. I know you’ve probably heard this time and time again, but they really do make a difference. Reviews don’t need to be long, “Great book” would be fine if it is a great book.

Finally, buy a book. In many ways, this is the most obvious. In some respects, it isn’t. With the ‘freemium’ model of Internet marketing, it occasionally gets forgotten that authors need to sell books to survive. A lot of indie authors keep their books at a very low price (a lot less than you’d pay for a pint in a pub) so the cost to a potential reader is minimal. I understand that money is an issue for many people, but without sales, artists will eventually have to stop being artists and be something else.

Not everyone succeeds. That’s old news. But if you like an author (artist, musician, review site etc.), please consider taking a little time out of your day or even a little money out of your wallet (shh... this is the thing the advertising gurus tell marketing muppets like me that ‘we’re not allowed to say’) to demonstrate your support for that artist. Failing that, I’ll take a ‘like’. :-)

Thank you for reading.
                                                                                                                                             
From the author's bio - Andy Graham is a British author currently living in the Czech Republic who will now stop talking about himself in the third person because it's odd. I have two main collections of books: The Lords of Misrule is a series of dystopian political thrillers set in an alternate world based on life in 21st century EU/ US. I also have an expanding collection of creepy reads that explore the darker side of life, death, and the undead. There are a few unfinished stories rattling around in my hard-drive and some unstarted ones knocking around in my head. They range from disposable airport fiction and YA sci fi to grimdark epics, but they will have to wait their turn. (Unfortunately for my wife, who is waiting for me to write something 'nice', preferably with sparkly vampires.) Outside of reading and writing, I'm a musician, qualified osteopath, seasoned insomniac, and father to two young kids who have too much energy to let me grow old gracefully.

You can find me online at www.andygrahamauthor.com (where you can claim a free book), twitter - @andygraham2001 and FB - andy graham author.