Friday, July 13, 2007

Where Have I Been?

For those of you wondering I am alive. I have not been attacked by a guy in a hockey mask or bladed glove. No, I wasn't dragged into the woods and tortured by an author that received a bad review.

I've actually been living my own nightmare. I've had some issues with depression my whole life but the first half of this year has been particularly bad. After going through a very ugly bout of depression I finally looked for help from a psychiatrist and counselor. It turns out I'm bipolar. There are no words that can accurately describe what goes on in the mind of a bipolar, or seriously depressed, person. There are plenty of things we can say but none can give the perfect description to somebody that doesn't have the problem. I've gone through two medications trying to find something that works for me so far this year with no luck. I'm now on the third medication. Hopefully this one will do the trick.

The drawback for you is that during this last mood swinging period in my life I've done practically no reading. The list I put up in the previous post? Still haven't finished it. I do have a review coming for The Cage though. If you're a monster lover it's the book for you. I also have a movie I want to talk about soon too. A good movie for B movie fans.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Movies And An Update

Wow! It has been a good while since I wrote anything. I'm sorry. I went through a period of very dark depression. It was worse than anything you could read about by your favorite horror author. The first medication the doctors put me on was a big mistake because it just knocked me out. I slept for almost two days on it. We had to let it get out of my system and start a second medication. This one seems to be doing the trick but it's taken my body about a month and a half to adjust to it. Now it's time to get back to work here.

I have four books lined up and ready to go:
  • Jason Brannon's The Cage is the first one to be read. I have a signed copy of it to giveaway as well.
  • Bitternest by Alan Draven. I've tried to avoid any promotional info on this one so that I can go into the unknown and truly be surprised.
  • Blaze: A Novel by Richard Bachman. I'm trying to understand why SK went with the Bachman name on this one.
  • The Good Guy by Dean Koontz. The plot description on the dust jacket sold me.
If you have a Wal-Mart nearby head to the DVD section and look for the collections. There is a two disc DVD collection for sale with both Identity and Secret Window for sale. At $9 and some change it is too good a deal to pass up.

Secret Window is a great adaptation of the Stephen King story Secret Window, Secret Garden staring Johnny Depp. An author going through a divorce finds himself accused of plagiarism by a stranger. It doesn't take long for things to start going wrong for our hero.

Identity is simply a great film. Ten strangers find themselves stuck together in a hotel one night during a horrendous storm. The roads are washing out and the phone lines are going down. One by one somebody begins to murder them.

If you haven't seen either movie yet then you now know all you need to know to enjoy them. These are two great movies and finding them packaged together was a sweet deal.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Two Books

I'm dealing with some "life issues" at the moment and they have really darkened my outlook on just about everything. Knowing that my outlook has been darkened I know that my views on writing and movies are unfairly slanted towards the negative. Instead of making negative comments about the last few books I have read I have put them aside to read again later when things are better.

Let me go ahead though and mention a couple of books that I think you would enjoy.
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. A ghost story with a love story thrown in. You won't see the love story right away, but it will sneak up on you. Good book.
  • Everything's Eventual by Stephen King. This is a great collection of short stories. One of the stories, 1408, has been made into a movie that should be on the big screens this summer. There is a little of something for everybody in these stories.
There you go. Two suggestions that I promise will entertain you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not Dead Yet

I know I've been quiet but I promise I'm not dead yet. Most of the books I've read lately don't quite qualify as "horror" but one of them would probably make decent source material. I hope to get a couple of reviews up this week.

Looking at my To Be Read stack I have way more books to read than I thought I did and I've got more on the way thanks to some really sweet ebay auctions I won. I've got enough to last me quite a while.

Don't forget you can still enter the contest to win an autographed Steve Vernon chapbook over at the contests page.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Pulitzer

Congratulations to Cormac McCarthy for wining the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished fiction by an American author for his novel The Road. A copy is sitting in my "To Be Read" pile.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Commandments

I was really hoping I could start this review with "The Bram Stoker Award wining collection...." but I can't. I can start with: The Bram Stoker Award Finalist collection The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes and published by Nocturne Press was a great read. Given that this is Easter weekend it's a great time to look at a book that deals with Christianity in a horror fashion.

The short version is that there are eleven stories in The Commandments. One for each of the Ten Commandments and a story that encompasses them. I believe writing this kind of story without offending the core beliefs of the religion is a challenge. I feel Angeline did a wonderful job of telling her story without offending those beliefs.

The encompassing story is about a church that obtains a very old copy of the Ten Commandments. Once the tablet arrives and is put on display in the church things take a turn for the worse for the members of the congregation.

Each of the ten stories focuses on one of the commandments and the punishment for those that chose to it. I try to stay spoiler free here so I'll just give a short teaser on each of the ten stories.

I - When a husband and wife have different religious beliefs it can really stress a marriage. Be very careful which god you chose to worship but be more careful about choosing who you marry. You never know how far they will go to make a point.
II - Craven images are not to be made or kept. Keeping one around the house can just kill your relationship.
III - Taking the Lord's name in vain can do more than make your mother mad. It might just cost you your life.
IV - When you are supposed to keep the Sabbath day holy it's not a good idea to do any work. You won't believe the things you will see and sadly you won't live long enough to tell anybody about them.
V - This story got my attention because it shows the victim isn't always the person ignoring the commandment. Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. Failing to keep this commandment will cause suffering not only for you but for your entire family.
VI - Thou Shalt Not Kill because if you do the punishment will be swift and horrific.
VII - The problem with having a mistress is she may not want you to go home to your wife. At least not all at once.
VIII - Gold. It's shiny, it's pretty and you can't wait to get your hands on it. If it's somebody else's gold though you might just want to keep your hands in your pockets.
IX - One lie leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another. It's a heavy price to pay when they all catch up to you.
X - What's yours is yours. Be happy with what you have because if you start wishing you had what your neighbor does you just might get it.

The encompassing story picks up again after the tenth commandment and wraps things up quite well.

While I do say I think Angeline did a wonderful job of not offending the core beliefs I must admit that knowing a woman wrote the way Angeline did about the tenth commandment can really put a man's mind on the seventh one. Of course knowing how the stories end will probably scare him right out of those thoughts.

There is enough horror variety in The Commandments for any horror fan. Unlike some books where you get one type of scare Angeline comes at you with ten different ones. This is a book you will enjoy.

Maybe next year at this time I'll be congratulating Angeline on wining the Stoker award. Her work deserves a win.

Big "Thank you!" to Angeline for allowing me to quote the following paragraphs from The Commandments.

How did they - how could they - Elias couldn't finish the thoughts. The skeletons had been piles of bones in the wood crate, but now they had somehow become connected again - whole - and moving as if alive before him in a clattering, creaking - but speechless movement.

Elias stood there petrified, rain soaking his shirt to his skin, molding it to his body. His hair was plastered flat on his head and water gushed over his nose and face.

One of the skeletons had retrieved the shovel and was studying it, while another one was curiously examining the golf cart. Elias stood there afraid to move; afraid to breathe, hoping the animated sets of bones would, perhaps, forget he was there; excecpt for the small detail of the rescuing-skeleton that was still tightly grasping his wrist.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat

Steve Vernon brings us the tale of Texas Jack Page in The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat. This chapbook is available from White Noise Press and features the artwork of Keith Minnion. Each chapbook in this limited run is signed by both Steve and Keith. Again, the quality level of the small press never fails to impress me. This chapbook is going to stand up to the passage of time not just because of the story quality but because of the production quality as well. Each page features artwork that really helps set the tone of the story. By the time you reach the end you will feel as if you were there with Texas Jack page.

Texas Jack Page is a man who loves his books so don't be surprised to find a part of yourself in the character. This is a story of a man who loves what he reads and collects what he loves. Before the end of the story you will find yourself thinking "Do I have that many books to? Am I on the same path this guy is?" This story serves as a salute to authors and readers everywhere. Keep in mind that for every positive there is a negative. Yin and Yang. Black and white. That book collection of yours is pretty impressive and positive, or is it? I haven't decided which scares me more about The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat, the story itself or how much of the story I see in myself.

How much did I enjoy this chapbook? Enough that I bought a second copy just to give away to one lucky reader. The contest will be up within the next seven days.

Big "Thank you!" to Steve Vernon for permission to quote the following:
Texas Jack Page became a hermit. He lived alone in a trailer in the center of a flat Texas plain. The grocery boy brought him case after case of pork and beans. He learned to bake bread and make his own beer. The trailer's breathable space grew cloistered and thick with a miasma of ass-propelled methane and the aroma of brewing yeast.

And yet outside his trailer, outside his tiny world, his legend slowly metamorphosized. He was Texas Jack Page. Groveling sycophants e-mailed his screen name, begging for a glimpse of his dark secret world. The legend began and was added to, in entry after entry, a walking shroud sewn from a cybernetic sky full of countless message board threads.

Teas Jack Page said this. Texas Jack Page found that.

Online, Texas Jack Page was ten feet tall. His high-heeled boot prints stomped across the message boards of a hundred websites, touching lives and tantalizing the imagination of hungry young fiction cannibals.

One more thing: Call me Ishmael

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Sinister Mr. Corpse

With The Sinister Mr. Corpse Jeff Strand returns to horror comedy. After experiencing the dark horror of his novel Pressure it's nice to have Jeff make us laugh again.

Stanley Dabernath's life was going nowhere fast. He was broke, evicted, eating stolen noodles three times a day, of low moral constitution and attempting to run a video distribution company featuring such titles as: Extreme Fishing, Vampire Splatter and The Mysterious Case of the Chunks of Flesh. Things weren't going well for Stanley but at least he was alive. At least he was alive until the semi truck full of milk ran off the road, tipped over, trapped his foot and then drowned him in milk that came pouring out of it.

Television reporter Donald Mandigan has gained exclusive access to the story of a lifetime. He has been invited by Project Second Chance to do a live broadcast of the first resurrection since Lazarus. Stanley was about to receive a second chance at life as The Amazing Mr. Corpse.

Stanley does an amazing job of adapting to life, such as it is, once he realizes that he really did die and return. Life as a living corpse isn't that bad and Stanley finally has his shot at fame and riches. All he has to do is make an appearance, autograph a shirt/action figure/poster/hat/photograph, enjoy the spotlight of fame, take his daily injection and collect a big check. It's a good thing Project Second Chance has assigned him a personal assistant to keep up with all of it.

So how does The Amazing Mr. Corpse become The Sinister Mr. Corpse? You'll have to read the book to find out and it's worth reading every page to learn all of Stanley's story.

Once again the small press has done a wonderful job of producing a quality product. Great job by Delirium Books. I really like the gold inlaid title, image and author's name on the cover of the book. The book comes in at 259 pages and was a pleasure to read.

Would I read The Sinister Mr. Corpse a second time? I already have.

Big "Thank you!" to Jeff Strand for allowing me to quote the following from the book. In this scene Stanley is meeting his assistant, Veronica, for the first time. It really gives you an idea of what Stanley's personality is like and what it would be like to work with him.

"You're not a freak," Veronica insisted, "you're a--"

"--a scientific phenomenon, I know. But, c'mon, look at me. I've got a face that only a drunken coked-up lobotomized mother could love."

"Don't be so caught up in your appearance. You're Mr. Corpse. People aren't expecting beauty."

"So I don't gross you out?"

"Not at all."

"What about now?" Stanley opened wide, showing her a mouthful of chewed-up eggs.

On a more personal note: If the comic industry can have Batman & Spawn teamup I think the horror story industry could have Captain Nothing, from Nothing To Lose, and The Sinister Mr. Corpse team up. That would be cool.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pain & Oprah

Hi there folks! I'm enjoying a pain killer moment and taking time to write this.

The dental work yesterday did NOT go as planned. The plan was: Use pain killer injections, make mouth numb, fill one tooth, extract another tooth, go home. That would have been so nice. Instead it was: Use injections, mouth not numb, use more injections, mouth numb, start removing decay for filling, experience intense pain, more injections, more pain, more injections, begin extraction, PAIN!, extraction complete, more injections, begin decay removal again, more pain, realizing we just have to push through this, PAIN PAIN PAIN!, decay removal finally done, filling done, go home. Who needs horror stories when you have experiences like that? Today I'm still in pain but not as bad as yesterday. Still, not fun. I will get the Strand & Hawkes reviews up this week.

Oprah? How did she get here? Oprah has listed "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy as the latest entry in her book club. A post apocalyptic novel chosen by the queen of the housewives. Horror lives.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday Update

Hi there! This is just a little entry to let you know what's going on.

Monday Mr. Postman brought me a signed copy of Wild Things: Four Tales by Douglas Clegg.

Tuesday afternoon I am having a tooth extracted and some filling work done on another one. Yikes!

Wednesday - Sunday I plan to have at least two reviews up for you. One of a Jeff Strand book and one of an Angeline Hawkes book. Maybe I can work in a third one. I know there are some authors out there that have given me quotes to use but I haven't gotten the reviews up yet. Nobody will be forgotten, I promise.

Am I the only one that ever dreams of drowning because my car went off a bridge? Creepy. Now go read a book!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Corpse On The Wall

Author Christopher Hawkins brings my Three for Free series to a close with his story Corpse On The Wall. This short story is available at his website and is a great read. You can find it and other selections in the Writing section of his website. I love it when authors share previously published work with those of us that might have missed it before.

Finding a strange corpse hanging in your home town is enough to give anybody the creeps. What I found creepy about this story was the way it shows the real horrors of society. As an individual a person can be very rational. As a member of society an individual can easily become just another mindless member of the herd. Individuals don't scare me, society scares me. How often have you done/bought/tried/watched/experience something because "everybody else is?"

Not everybody will take the same ideas from the story I did and that is a good thing. It shows were not mindless members of the herd.

Go read the story and enjoy it. Be sure to read Carpenter's Thumb while you're there.

Big "Thank You!" to Christopher for allowing me to quote the following from Corpse On The Wall.

The wall was there. The wall had always been there.

For as long as anyone could remember, it had stood at the edge of their little town, towering high above the rooftops, surrounding it the way a mother’s arms surround a child. The circle of its sure, steady timbers was thought to be a good thing, when people stopped to think about it at all. "Keeps the bad folks out and the good folks right here where they belong," the old farmers were often heard to say, and when they said it, everyone agreed. Still, no crops were grown in its shadow, and no one in the town would walk too near it after the sun went down.

And so it was until the day that someone chanced to glance at the wall and saw a shape hanging dark and heavy against it. It had appeared in the middle of the night, or so it was thought since no one could recall ever seeing it there before. But, every last person in the town who looked up at it knew in an instant what it was, for there was no mistaking its shape, or the shadow that it cast.

It was a corpse, suspended high against the weathered wood.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Apex Digest

I'm on a free roll this week. I'll have another free story covered later but for now let me share a link to a free (you pay s/h) Science Fiction and Horror digest. Apex Digest is giving away a free copy of Apex Issue 2. The only thing they ask is you give it a fair chance. You can get a copy by clicking here.

The names of authors that have contributed to Apex are pretty impressive. Some very well known outside of genre fans and others you may not have heard of but will most likely enjoy.

I've taken the Apex Challenge, as I'm now calling it, and ordered a copy. If you wish to do the same all you have to do is click here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Don't you just love it when an author shares their work for free? Jason Brannon has done just that and it appears he will do it again in the future. Surf on over to Jason's website at and head to the Downloads section. Once there you can download and enjoy his short story Fishing. Don't forget his first novel The Cage is available for pre-order now. Fishing is a wonderful short story and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did.

Life, death and truth, the sea holds them all. Sometimes what you catch isn't what you expected when you decided to go fishing.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Haunted Harbours Ghost Stories From Old Nova Scotia

Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from Old Nova Scotia by Steve Vernon is a collection of twenty-one ghost stories from around the waterways of Nova Scotia. If you've had a hard time telling an author from a story teller this is the book that will set you straight. Steve puts on the hat of a story teller and invites you to sit and listen as he entertains with this book.

So far this is the only book I've reviewed here that is kid safe. You won't find graphic depictions of death. You won't find zombies dining on human flesh. You won't find vampires flying into the windows of young maidens with violent intentions. You will find some great ghost stories though. Perhaps you remember sitting around a campfire as a child and swapping stories. Of course you had the stories that ended with "the bloody hook was in the door!" or "and it was his feet scraping the roof she heard!" but the best stories were the ones told by the normally quiet adult. The stories that had you seeing shapes in the fire and hearing noises in the dark.

Growing up on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico I heard plenty of ghost stories of the sea and was thrilled to see that I had not heard any of the stories Steve tells in Haunted Harbours. The stories here all come from actual ghost stories told in Nova Scotia that are still being told today. I enjoyed the stories so much I ordered a copy of the book for my brother, a boat captain himself.

None of the stories go over ten pages and most are much shorter than that. Steve does a wonderful job of giving us the setting, characters and haunt without overloading the stories with information we don't need. The settings of the stories require the use of some nautical terms but Steve gives enough detail that you don't have to guess at what he is describing.

While you could read through Haunted Harbours, it's only 120 pages, in one sitting I would suggest against it. Take the time to read and enjoy each story on it's own. These are stories you will find yourself telling to people around campfires or in taverns later. Let the stories soak into your system and become a part of you. Then you will become part of the story telling tradition and pass it along to others.

I really like the artwork on the cover by Michael Little and the interior art by John van der Woude. They really help set the mood of each story and spark your imagination. Last week a three masted ship, Stad Amsterdam, similar to the one on the cover of Haunted Harbours spent two days at the Port of Pensacola. Sadly the public was not allowed on the ship but we were able to enjoy some wonderful views of it up close. I had no problem visualizing characters from the book walking the deck and in the rigging of that ship while it was here. The story telling lived on.

It was difficult to come up with a paragraph or two to quote from Haunted Harbours because each story has it's voice that calls out to me. Anybody reading the stories will come up with their own favorite passage. I finally decided on the one below because it shows not only the commitment between a sailor and his captain but the commitment between friends. Big "Thank you!" to Steve Vernon for allowing me to quote the paragraphs below.

John MacNeil was dying. It was his last voyage home from trading in the Caribbean; he was dying of tropical fever and was afraid of being buried away from home - not for himself, you understand, but for his wife, who would worry about where he lay. "Don't bury me in the sea," he begged the captain. "For my bones will know no rest and my widow will weep out an ocean over my empty grave."

The captain was a good and honest man who'd known MacNeil most of his life. He hated to break faith with a sailor and a friend. "I'll do what I can," he promised. MacNeil passed on that night, but not before wringing one more promise from the captian, who swore on his father's good name that he'd see MacNeil's body laid to rest in the Isaac's Harbour Cemetery.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bram Stoker Nominations

The nominations for the 2006 Bram Stoker Award have been announced.
Because I am not a voting member, or even a HWA member (one day I hope to be a memeber), I can openly say "Congrats Jeff Strand for the nomination for Pressure! I hope you win!"

There is a lot of great work in the nomination list. Get out and read some of it.


Headstone City by Tom Piccirilli (Bantam)
Lisey's Story by Stephen King (Scribner)
Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
Pressure by Jeff Strand (Earthling)
Prodigal Blues by Gary A. Braunbeck (Cemetery Dance)

FIRST NOVEL Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry (Pinnacle)
The Keeper by Sarah Langan (William Morrow)
Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon (Five Star)
The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martins)
LONG FICTION Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge (Cemetery Dance)
Hallucigenia by Laird Barron (The Magazine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction)
Mama's Boy by Fran Friel (Insidious Publications)
Bloodstained Oz by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore (Earthling Publications)
Clubland Heroes by Kim Newman (Retro Pulp Tales)
SHORT STORY Tested by Lisa Morton (Cemetery Dance)
Balance by Gene O'Neill (Cemetery Dance)
Feeding the Dead Inside by Yvonne Navarro (Mondo Zombie)
FYI by Mort Castle (Masques V)
“31/10” by Stephen Volk (Dark Corners)
ANTHOLOGY Aegri Somnia: The Apex Featured Writer Anthology
edited by Jason Sizemore and Gill Ainsworth (Apex)
Mondo Zombie edited by John Skipp (Cemetery Dance)
Retro Pulp Tales edited by Joe Lansdale (Subterranean)
Alone on the Darkside edited by John Pelan (Roc)
FICTION COLLECTION Destinations Unknown by Gary Braunbeck (Cemetery
American Morons by Glen Hirshberg (Earthling
The Commandments by Angeline Hawkes (Nocturne Press)
The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford (Golden
Basic Black: Tales of Appropriate Fear by Terry
(Cemetery Dance)
NONFICTION Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We
Die by Michael Largo (Harper)
Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of
Hell on Earth by Kim Paffenroth (Baylor Press)
Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished by Rocky Wood
(Cemetery Dance) Cinema Macabre edited by Mark Morris (PS Publishing)
POETRY Shades Fantastic by Bruce Boston (Gromagon Press)
Valentine: Short Love Poems by Corrine de Winter
(Black Arrow Press)
The Troublesome Amputee by John Edward Lawson (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Songs of a Sorceress by Bobbi Sinha-Morey (Write
Words, Inc.)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Hole

A co-worker told me I needed to see a movie that has been on Encore over the last couple of weeks, The Hole. I'm glad I took her advice. This was a great movie. It's based on the novel After The Hole by Guy Burt. I hope to read the book in the next few months. This isn't a movie for the kids and is rated R for good reasons. Will I watch it again? Oh yeah.

One of the things that made the movie memorable for me was the fact that the cast is mostly unknowns to me. With the exceptions of Embeth Davidtz as a therapist and Keira Knightley (of Pirates of The Caribbean fame) as a hot teen girl, the rest of the cast were all new faces to me. This made it easier to accept their predicament without thinking "But he/she makes _______ a film so I know nothing too bad is going to happen to the character." Quick note for my male readers: Yes, Keira does go topless in one scene. I can almost hear men running to the video store now.

The story begins with one of four missing teenagers, Liz, showing up bloody and screaming at the private school they all attend in Britain. This begins the first of two versions of the story. The first version is told from this teenager to the therapist assigned to work with her. It seems there was a school wide field trip planned. Those students that weren't going on the three day trip were being sent home to their families. The four teenagers wanted a private field trip and arranged for just such a thing. By paying Martyn, the kind of teen that can find/buy/sell anything, for his help they find themselves at the entrance to an old bomb shelter. Martyn unlocks the hatch with the promise he will return in three days to let them out. He has to lock it behind him or anybody that happens along with see something is wrong. When three days pass and Martyn doesn't return the four teens begin to realize something is wrong. It takes only a day or two for Liz to find the microphones hidden in the shelter and stage a performance that convinces Martyn to return as the four sleep and unlock the hatch.

Then the second version of the story begins. The police point out to the therapist that she hasn't told Liz she was the only one of the four found alive. Martyn is found in the Dominican Republic and returned to Britain to face charges. Martyn quickly denies being responsible and begins to tell the story of Liz (Thora Birch) and Frankie (Keira Knightly) that shows they aren't as innocent as Liz's story would have us believe. It is in this telling that the story becomes very dark and we begin to see how love can bring forth evil. Once this second version of the story begins I promise you will not want to leave your seat. Just when you think it's all over the movie has one twist left for you.

I really enjoyed this movie and believe most of you will enjoy it as well. My co-worker also recommended another movie that turned out to be pretty good: The Prestige. The Prestige is a movie that requires you to pay attention. When the plot twists start you wont want to miss any of the details. Go rent both of these movies and have fun this week. It's better than watching American Idol (yuck!).

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Creepers by David Morrell is, without a doubt, on my re-read list. While the term "thriller" may be more appropriate for this book, "horror" is easily applied. When I read a book I can usually see the movie version of it in my mind and this book was no exception. However, the level of horror generated in the telling of the story could not be translated to film. If you really want a good scare curl up with this book on a dark night by yourself.

The title comes from a term applied the group of main characters. Creepers are people that explore urban areas that have been closed to the pubic. Old hotels that have been boarded up. Subway lines that have been sealed shut. Abandoned areas of development or industry. Their goal is to sneak in, because it is trespassing, explore the snapshot of history contained within and then leave. They take only pictures and memories while leaving nothing behind.

In the story a group of Creepers have been joined by a reporter documenting their work and adventures. A reporter with a past he doesn't wish to share with this group. A reporter with secrets that may cause everybody in the group to pay a high price. Who else keeps secrets? You'll have to read the book to find out. Be assured that as the secrets are revealed and the plot twists start coming at you that your pulse will quicken and you may just have to put the book down for a few minutes.

What could be scarier that exploring an abandoned and unsafe structure in the middle of the night? Finding out you are not the only ones doing it. Finding out that when things seem their worst that the worst is yet to come.

Don't be surprised to find David Morrell playing with your emotions as you read through Creepers. Where you jeer a character one moment you may cheer that character the next. Enjoy each plot twist as it arrives.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


I'm sorry folks. I know I have neglected you.
I've had so much going on in life I'm behind on more than just my reading.
I promise to get at least two reviews up for you by Monday. If I don't then you can force me to read the biography of Paul Reubens while hitting me with a wiffle bat.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Congratulations to Ing Kalchthaler!
Ing won the autographed copy of Funny Stories of Scary Sex by Jeff Strand and it is on the way via US Mail. Coming up next is a copy of The Last Stand of The Great Texas Packrat autographed by Steve Vernon. I'll have a review of it up this week.

This past week has been pretty quiet here at The Horror Fan. Between a two tooth extraction for my wife and the passing of a kidney stone for myself it has been anything but quiet at home.

Pick a book and do some reading. I'll have reviews up again this week.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Development Hell

Development Hell by Mick Garis is available from Cemetery Dance. Once again the small publisher comes though with a well produced book.

I wanted to write a review that would sing the praises of this book. Then I wanted to write a review that said how much I enjoyed this book. I finally decided I would just say I made an honest effort to read this book.

Development Hell has gotten some wonderful praise and reviews but it just wasn't for me. I tried to read it twice and didn't have any luck. Mick has a fine writing style but the plot and characters just didn't reach me.

I don't have any negative comments, but I can't come up with any positive ones either. Feel free to give the book a chance. It might be a treasure that I've simply missed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Q&A

Today I'm thrilled to present a Valentine's Day Horror Q&A with Jack Ketchum and Michele Bardsley. Each author was chosen because of the unique views on love, sex and horror they present in their writing.

Big "THANK YOU!" to both Jack and Michele for taking time to answer the following questions. Enjoy!

Cupid, angel or demon?
Jack - Have you ever been in love when the little fucker wasn't both?
Michele - DEMON

Which scares you more? Having your heart broken by the betrayal of a lover or having it broken because a monster just ripped it out of your chest?
Jack - I've had the former. Got over it. When the latter happens I doubt I'll be able to let you know.
Michele - Um ... I think having a monster rip my heart is scarier. I can recover from a figurative broken heart.

Was Dracula a scary villain or a romantic lead character?
Jack - My Dracula was Stoker's Dracula. An amalgam of the two. Dead, but beguiling.
Michele - Both. He was terrifying and sexy. Kudos to ol' Drac for pulling that one off.

Going out on Valentines night which would you suggest, scary movie or romantic dinner?
Jack - First you gotta figure, what's your aim here? You want a hug or you want the full monte? Scary movies are cheaper. But if you've got any class you might want to spring for the dinner. Besides, most movies don't serve Chocolate Martinis or pitchers of Banana Daiquiri.
Michele - Romantic dinner. I like food way more than I liked to be scared out of my wits.

The marriage vows say that a couple will stay together until death. If a voodoo witch doctor brings them back from the dead are they free to date other zombies?
Jack - Date? Did George Romero ever address the subject of dating? Did I miss something? For some reason I'm thinking dinner again. More important.
Michele - That's an excellent question. I think couples who plan to walk down the aisle should clarify this situation in their vows. I mean, if your body is technically dead, but still shuffling around, does that really count toward "'til death do us part"?

Psychotic small restaurant owner is serving dinner on Valentines night. His mind is finally slipped and he has butchered his wait staff. What body part(s) does he serve his customers that night?
Jack - You've clearly got this goddamn restaurant fixation. You need to work on that. Okay. Is his wait staff male or female? What age? Are we talking cherrystone clams or deep fried bull's pizzle? You gotta be more specific.
Michele - The hearts, of course!

It's Valentine's Day. You can spend it with any character you have written about. Which one is it and why?
Jack - RED. Dogs are cheap. They love you unconditionally. And they don't bitch about the Chardonnay.
Michele - I would probably choose Patrick O'Halloran, the vampire hero from I'M THE VAMPIRE, THAT'S WHY. Yeah, he's really sexy and has that yummy Irish accent, but really, I want to ask him a bunch of questions about what really transpired in the world 4,000 years ago.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Looking for a review? You'll find plenty here with plenty more to come.

There will be a Valentine's Day treat here for you on the 14th. Be sure to drop by and check it out.

It's not too late to enter the drawing for an autographed copy of Funny Stories of Scary Sex by Jeff Strand at the contests page.

Speaking of contests, the next autographed item to be given away will be a copy of Steve Vernon's The Last Stand of the Great Texas Packrat. Review coming soon. Keep checking in to find out when the contest starts.

For the ale drinkers in the crowd you will be pleased to know that the advertisements for Sam Adam's Lager are all true. Goodbye Miller beer. I've switched brands. I'm also trying out some microbrewery beers as well. Maybe one day I'll work up the nerve to try brewing my own. Horror Beer maybe? Something to think about.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Nothing To Lose

Nothing To Lose was written by Steve Vernon and published by Nocturne Press. Let me start by saying I really hope there are more stories coming from Steve about this character. I loved it.

The book contains three stories about Captain Nothing. This guy is my kind of hero. Yes he wears a mask, or two, and believes in helping others. It's the way he goes about helping people that makes him so entertaining. Who needs heat vision or lightning speed when you have a brick and the bad guy doesn't hear you sneaking up behind him?

After reading Nothing To Lose I found myself wondering if Captain Nothing is a hero out to protect the innocent or a institutionalized patient simply sharing his delusions with us. Either way he is quite entertaining in the three stories.

The Glint Of Moonlight On Broken Glass - Captain Nothing encounters two men assaulting a woman with plans to rape her. If she knew the horrors that awaited her in the future she would have prayed for death instead of a savior. This story gives us the supernatural villain that every superhero must one day face. A being that feeds on the suffering of others. A being that takes the form of it's victims so that it can feed again.

Lamprey Fellatio - The problem with being a hero is there are people out to get you. After all, you can't have good without bad. All our hero wanted was to enjoy a night at The Sloppy Seconds and a few beers. Next thing he knows is his life goes from pleasure to pain as he finds himself chained to a cinder block and rapidly sinking. It's a fear we all have.

The Frozen Axe Of Winter Love - When you have no reason left to live the only thing you can do is die. This is the kind of story that will make you stop and give your mother/wife an extra hug in the morning and an extra kiss at night. If someone is determined to die then the heroic thing to do is comfort them before they go. Captain Nothing is just the man for the job.

So where is the "horror" in Nothing To Lose? Each person will find it in a different way. To me the horror comes from the crimes discussed in the book that you can read about in your newspaper every day. The horror comes from Captain Nothing's point of view. Once you see how he sees the world you learn there is something to be afraid of everywhere. The horror comes from the choices people make when they feel there is no choice left.

For those of us that grew up thinking "Batman should be more bad ass than this. He's the Dark Knight for crying out loud!" Steve Vernon has given us what we wanted. Captain Nothing is beyond cool.

I can't help but wonder if I was the only one to hear KISS singing their song "Nothing To Lose" while reading the book.

Special "Thank you!" to Steve for allowing me to quote the following:
Then I heard the scream. It was more than a scream. More like something was being pulled out of her, yanked and uprooted. I run like my feet have suddenly grown anvils; the purse rattling against my side like a bagful of hammers. In the moonlight I look like the world's ugliest drag queen, cape, purse and all. I don't care. She needs saving.

By the time I get there the screaming has stopped. She's lying in the mouth of the alleyway. Lying wreathed in a halo of sodium lamp, something dark pooling around her, moonlight glinting on a fresco of broken glass.

I have one more point to make today. Why can't the major publishing houses produce books of the same quality as the small publishers? I recently received Ghoul from Dorchester and saw Hannibal Rising at the book store. Both of these books, all of the Hannibal Rising copies in this particular store, were in ragged shape. Apparently the cutting blade used during production was dull. In both books some of the pages were not separated and they both had the very ragged ends that looked like the pages had been ripped apart instead of properly cut. I'm am constantly amazed by the production quality of the smaller publishers and Nocturne Press is one of them. Wonderful production quality for Nothing To Lose.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Candy For Valentine

Once again I bring you the writing of Michele Bardsley. I know some horror purists are thinking "But Paranormal Romance isn't horror!" To them I say "Phooey! Read the work!" Anytime you have vampires dining on humans you have a horror story.

Candy For Valentine, available only from Changeling Press, is a wonderful erotic interlude running about 35 pages. The story begins with Valentine Carter attending a romance convention. For the men reading this think DragonCon but full of romance. Valentine is the author of "The Blog Bitch" and is well known in the romance book community for trashing books on her blog instead of praising them. She has been invited to take part in the convention but soon finds herself snubbed by everyone there. There are feelings of anger and revenge in the air. Just when it seems nobody will have anything to do with Valentine a Pierce Brosnan looking gentleman offers to buy her a drink. Even after she introduces herself he stays and seems to enjoy her company. Drinks, handcuffs, a ball gag and a chance to do the mattress mambo with Pierce? What woman could possibly turn down that opportunity?

Valentine might wish she had turned down the opportunity. Before long we discover that romance writers and fans aren't the only ones attending the convention. There is a vampire in their midst and he needs to feed.

Women will love the romantic aspects of this story. Men will love the erotic aspects of this story. This isn't a story for the kids. Michele writes erotica in ways that men will enjoy. I secretly think she's the editor of Penthouse Forum. Or at least has a letter or twelve published in Penthouse.

I was able to get vampires, a little Valentine's Day romance and incredible sex writing in one great story.

Something I really enjoyed was that Candy For Valentine comes in electronic form. This means I was able to put it on my PDA and read it on the go. I plan to order more stories from Changeling Press because of this.

In reading the story I couldn't help but wonder if I wasn't being sent a message. Blogger, reviews, revenge. Hmmmm.

A special note to the male readers: This is another one of the writings your woman wants you to read. There are some great tips in here.

Special "Thank you!" to Michele for allowing me to quote the following:

The gorgeous brunette sat on the bed, dressed in nothing but bra, panties, cuffs, and gag. Woo-hoo! He was mightily impressed by this surprise.

"You are way more than awesome," he said.

Her brown eyes looked glazed and wild. Oh, baby. She was different from his usual donors. Maybe Steven and Eve had realized he needed to change it up. He was a rarity in a world filled with rarities—a vampire who could only feed when engaged in a sexual act.


PS: Don't forget you can win a Jeff Strand autographed chapbook at the contests page.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Pressure by Jeff Strand comes in just under 250 pages total but it doesn't seem that long. Why? Because you don't want to stop reading. Time will stand still as you get drawn into the story.

It's not often an author creates a character that I can so easily identify with but Jeff pulls it off with the main character, Alex Fletcher. I so easily identified with Alex that when something bad happened to him in the book I wanted to hit the author with my copy. Don't worry, I calmed down. Jeff Strand is in no danger.

If you are more familiar with Jeff's humorous work then you are in for a shock. Pressure doesn't have his sense of humor in it. This is a straight forward suspense novel that will put you on edge. If you are not familiar with Jeff's funny side then look at The Horror Contests page where I'm giving away an autographed copy of his "Funny Stories of Scary Sex".

The story takes place in four phases during the life of Alex Fletcher. Each phase deals with the pressure he experiences due to his interactions with Darren Rust. Remember the creepy kid in grade school that you just knew would grow up to be a psycho? That's Darren. It's made pretty clear at the beginning that Daren just isn't right.

Phase I - Sneaking out to peek in the back door of a strip club. Playing card games when you should be studying. Dreaming of growing up with your best friends and learning that one of them just might be crazy.
Phase II - Going to college. Meeting girls. Running into the grade school friend you thought was crazy. Learning that with the right amount of pressure he can get you to do what he wants, no matter how you really feel.
Phase III - You finally got rid of your "friend", matured and found yourself happy in life. What is that your daughter brought home from the playground? Didn't your "friend" have something like that? This cannot be happening.
Phase IV - Friend or not, this has to end. Now. No price is too high when you have suffered this much. It's time to put the Pressure on your so called friend instead of allowing him to put it on you.

Don't be surprised when you see yourself in this book. Don't be alarmed when you relate to the characters and know their pain. Be terrified when you realize this could happen to you.

Yes this made the re-read list, but not too soon. I need time to get over the emotions from the first reading before I read it again.

Looking for a good scare that doesn't involve vampires, ghosts, ghouls and/or the wolf man? This is the story for you.

Special "Thank you!" to Jeff Strand for allowing me to quote the following from Pressure:

If it's ok with you I would like to quote the following:
I motioned for Jeremy to stop. We stood there for a moment, listening to the sounds coming from the bushes. They weren't loud, and I couldn't quite tell what they were.
They sounded sort of....wet.
Jeremy put a finger to his lips, and together we began to walk toward the bushes as quietly as possible.
The wet sounds continued, vaguely reminding me of my mother peeling the skin off a raw chicken.
Jeremy held up three fingers, counting down.
"Gotcha!" Jeremy shouted as we simultaneously pushed through the bushes.
Darren cried out and threw up his hands.
A few drops of liquid hit my face.
There was a moment of absolute chaos, as Darren frantically scooted away from us, and Jeremy's face registered pure horror at what he saw, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by a smell that was far worse than the dumpster outside the strip club.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I know it can be intimidating to buy books by authors you haven't read before, even if I do sing their praises. That's why today I've got something for review that you can get for free. That's right, F-R-E-E. You can download E-Macabre, along with some other free pdf files, at One thing I love about electronic works is that I can put them on my Palm Treo and read on the go without having to carry a book.

E-Macabre brings us eight short stories within fifty-two pages. There is a little something for everybody here and it makes for a great introduction to some authors you may not have heard of before. At least two of which you will see again here later on. Because these are short stories I don't want to give away too much in the reviews. I am only providing a synopsis of each story. Each story is well written and provides quality entertainment.

You might want to read this on Valentine's Day as some of the stories show how quickly love can lead to horror.

Mortichinery by Michael A. Arnzen: What price would you pay to preserve the remains of one you love? A widower wishes to preserve the final moments of time he spent with his wife and a mortician presents him with that opportunity. Michael does a great job of giving you the setting, characters and action right away. No wasted text in this story.

The Foundling by Angeline Hawkes-Craig: A cold night, a kind heart, a cross bound infant. Angeline does a great job in describing the era and setting of the story. At what point is evil born? This story examines that question and provides a couple more questions for the reader to explore. I feel there is a back story to this one waiting to be written.

Sunrise Revival by James S. Dorr: A preacher, a farmer and the casting out of demons. My parents took me to a revival once as a child and it scared the hell out of me. After reading this story I think that may have been what my parents had in mind. I think there is a story following the action of this one waiting to be written. I really liked the fact that the story kick started my imagination at the end.

The Sweetness of Your Heart by Ann K. Schwader: Which is more horrific, what one does in life or what happens to one in death? Reading this story made me think of works by Poe and Stoker. Ann's style of writing in this story matches the time frame the story takes place in. It's almost poetic. Love is in the air.

The Kinds of Things You Talk About In Arkansas Truck Stops by David Acord: Just the twist that fans of Quantum Leap have been waiting for. A life renewed or a chance to fix another life? Although painful it does seem like a promising proposition, as long as you don't mind blood in your eggs.

Residual Fumes by Margaret L. Carter: Horror of the supernatural. There are a couple of lessons in this story. 1 - Don't leave the car running in the garage. 2 - Beware of revenge from beyond the grave. What scares me most about this story wasn't the supernatural element but the fact that I read about situations like this in the news on a regular basis. Reality meets fiction in a horrifying way. What price must be paid for love?

Lost Souls by Kat Yares: This is the second widower story in the collection. Remember the irritable old man that lived down the street? He was always alone and just creepy. Ever wonder what made him that way? To learn the answer might cost you your life. Nothing leads to horror faster than love.

Sharks in a Sea of Red by Jason Brannon: The final story of the collection and another story that shows how quickly love can lead to horror. A broken heart, a sharp knife and a thirst for revenge. What more can you ask for? Well, there is the undead.

A special thank you to Jason Brannon for allowing me to quote the following from "Sharks in a Sea of Red":

Burton shivered at the thought of what was going to happen to him. He had watched those wildlife documentaries too and remembered the way the sharks thrashed and flailed in the water at the first signs of blood. He wasn't sure how accurate a description it was for the undead, but just the idea of it made him wish for a quick death.

"Can't we talk this over?" he asked, screaming as Tanya shook her head 'no' and cut him once on each cheek with the tip of the knife....

Be sure to try and escape the cage by playing the online game The Cage: The Game at Jason's website. It's a very interesting promotional tool for his new novel The Cage.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Marvel Zombies

Comic and zombie lovers rejoice. Marvel Zombies is available at your local bookstore. There were five Marvel Zombies comics and they have been put together in this one edition.

In an alternate universe a cosmic virus has mutated the super heroes and super villains of earth into Super Zombies! With a hunger that no super sized meal could match the zombies have turned the human race into the ultimate meal. Is it Soylent Green? Is it the Twilight Zone book "How To Serve Man"? Nope! Just good old fashioned zombificaiton.

The story starts with Magneto, who hasn't become a zombie, trying to get to the space station where the last of the humans are but the zombies are hungry and after him. The human race has already been eaten and Magneto is just too tasty a morsel to pass up.

Look! Up in the sky! Is it bird? Is it a plane? It sure isn't Superman because this isn't DC. Ok, the comic fans out there got that joke. It's actually the Silver Surfer. Will he destroy the zombies? Will he become the next item on the menu? What happens to a zombie Captain America loses the top part of his head? When the hunger takes over Bruce Banner does he politely ask for treat? No! HULK EAT!

Some zombies keep horrific secrets. Like the one keeping a human alive so he can sneak a snack every now and then without the other zombies knowing about it.

In this five part story we see the Marvel Zombies, both heroes and villains, have to overcome the same obstacles to feed their hunger. It's easy to both boo and cheer the characters in this story as it progresses. Having a twisted sense of humor I had no problem laughing when the zombies learned how to recycle. I loved the ending where other people had hoped for a different outcome.

If you are comic fan you are probably already aware of Marvel Zombies. If you aren't then you have just found a way to revisit your childhood comic collecting days with a new horrific twist. If you have kids you'll earn bonus points with them for buying a comic.

What could be scarier than seeing the heroes you knew would always be there to save you transformed into eating machines with you on the menu?

Spider-man loses cool points in this story. He can't get over the fact that he ate his wife and aunt because he's a zombie. I know, I know. There is Freudian joke in there. It's still funny to see him all broke up about it though.

The one thing I really wanted to see, but didn't, was a zombie Professor X in the background saying "Brains. Braaaaaaiiinns!" That would have been funny.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Lost

Woodstock, Helter Skelter and Ray Pye. You're probably only familiar with the first two but it's the third one that will get your attention. Getting attention is one of the things Ray is good at as you will learn in The Lost by Jack Ketchum.

In 1965 Ray, Tim and Jennifer were drinking at the local campground when Ray decided to get some attention. He pointed out two young women camping just down the hill and wondered aloud what it would be like to kill them. Before long he had his answer along with two people who would do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.

Four years later we find Jennifer depending on the drugs and alcohol to help her make it through the days and clinging to Ray in a search for love. Tim is in love with Jennifer and clinging to Ray for the drugs and some sense of guidance in life. Ray is pleased as punch to have these two hanging on his every word and action. Ray is the king of the teens and the bane of the local police force. Nobody was ever charged with the murder of the two campers but the local detectives have no doubt it was Ray Pye. The problem is they could never find the evidence needed to arrest him. Everybody knows Ray is dangerous and thinks it's only a matter of time before he proves it.

Jack Ketchum has the ability to scare readers by writing about the kind of people they see every day. I can think of a guy I went to high school with and another I did factory work with that could have easily been Ray Pye. I've worked with people like Jennifer and Tim. Jack's characters aren't just words on paper. They leap off the pages and become real to you. You will care how the characters feel, you will worry about what is happening to them and sometimes they will simply scare the hell out of you. How well are the characters developed? I took an extended break at work while reading The Lost to see what was going to happen next to the cat in the story.

Like the other work by Jack Ketchum I've read this book is on my re-read list. It's not as graphic as Off Season or Weed Species were. I think it would make a great introduction to Jack's writing for those that might have held back because of the graphic depictions in some of his other work.

This book is like a roller coaster. You have the initial jolt to your system as the cars begin to leave the station, the nerve wracking climb up the first hill not knowing what to expect, the terrifying thrills as you are propelled through the ride and finally returning to the station knowing that you are ok but unsure about the people around you.

Something I enjoyed about this Dorchester release of the book was the cover. As the story progresses you will find yourself trying to guess exactly who the girl on the cover is. If you can find some of the special printings though, buy them.

The title "The Lost" was a great choice because it can easily be applied to all of the characters and settings in this novel. If you ever spend time in a small and dying town you'll see what I mean. Great choice.

A special "Thank you!"to Jack for allowing me to quote the following paragraph:

He still remembered that night four years ago as though it had happened yesterday. Specific events would come back to him at peculiar times. He'd be sipping a cherry Coke at the corner of a soda fountain waiting for Ray and he'd remember pulling up and finding them both gone and finding the note telling them both to stay put and he'd remember Jennifer's panic, not knowing what in the hell had gone wrong but both he and Jennifer scared to drive away, scared of Ray and just as scared to stick around some dead girl's body. Not knowing what to do, whether to load the tent and all their gear into the car or not and consequently not doing anything, just waiting by the cold remains of the fire.

Hopefully the movie adaptation of the novel will be picked up for large scale distribution this year. You can see more about it at complete with pictures, soundtrack clips and a message board.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Funny Stories of Scary Sex

Funny Stories Of Scary Sex by Jeff Strand and illustrated by Keith Minnion is exactly what the title claims to be. Two stories containing sex, scares and humor. This chapbook is limited to 150 copies published by White Noise Press so finding one for yourself may be a bit of a challenge. I found mine through Shocklines. They are currently out of stock but appear to have more on order. The publisher does has some in stock at this time. Each chapbook is autographed by both the author and the illustrator twice.

Short stories should be like an afternoon quickie in the copier room. Quick, to the point and great fun. Both Sex Potion #147 and Werewolf Porno meet these requirements.

In Sex Potion #147 Melissa is a thirty something lady with a non-existant sex life. The good news is that she has encountered a gypsy selling a potion that will fix her problem. Sadly it works a bit too well.

"He wasn't good at murder-talk and truly admired those killers who could eloquently taunt their victims, or at least rant incoherently. Harold felt self-conscious about speaking during the process, but he wanted to say something so he stuck with..."

The title Werewolf Porno pretty much sums things up. It has a werewolf making a porno. Luckily for us Jeff does more than simply write a title. Carl is an unemployed werewolf that tries to drink away his sorrows in the local bar. One night he meets a porn director at the bar and after a few drinks finds himself explaining his condition. The pornographer has a wonderful idea for a film. Horror and hilarity ensues.

"Garry had assured him that his lack of a gargantuan phallus was okay, and that he wouldn't be expected to go at it like a seasoned porn star. 'You'll just lie there; she'll do all the work,' the director had explained. 'As long as the moon does the trick, we'll have ourselves the ultimate porno flick, a bestiality masterpiece beyond anything the world has ever seen!'"

Will these stories make my re-read list? You better believe it! Just like that quickie in the copier room this is something you will want to enjoy again and again.

The other bonus to this chapbook is that you get three illustrations by Keith Minnion with it. Two different covers plus an additional illustration inside. I really like that it came in an envelope for storage that also has the titles illustrated by Keith as well.

The quality of some of these small publishers has really amazed me and White Noise Press is no exception. This chapbook is laid out well, there are no ink smudges and it's printed on quality paper. I really think some of the big publishing companies could take lessons from the smaller ones.

If you order this book you will not be disappointed.

Big "Thank you!" to Jeff Strand for allowing me to include quotes from the stories.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lisey's Story

For those of you that have seen Lisey's Story at the stores but have been hesitant to buy it since it came out let me tell you it’s worth it. The book weighs in at just over five hundred pages. The first thing to note is how the title is pronounced. It’s Lee-cee’s Story. Not Liz-ee’s Story. Stephen explains that early on in the book.

It turns out the book is a love story. Lisey Landon is the widow of writer Scott Landon the focus of the story is how she is coping with the loss of her husband two years after his death and dealing with her sisters. One sister has a superiority complex. Another tends to think the other three lie. Yet another seems to have given up on the family and the last one is crazy. The last one is the kind of crazy that uses sharp edges to bleed out the bad. I know this doesn’t seem to have the makings of a love story, but trust me, it is. There’s also Booya Moon but I’ll just let you read about that.

Does the book have the monsters, twists and moments of pure terror that Stephen King is known for? Oh yeah! But, you have to be patient. The first half is setup for the action that follows in the second half. You won’t see a monster or evil spirit or even a haunted desk lamp in the first half but you will read some great character development. You will have a feeling though that something very wrong is about to happen when you learn the story behind the Yum-Yum Tree and the grave marker for Paul that is illustrated on the book’s cover. The shovel on the cover will make sense too. Once you finish the novel spend some time looking at the cover of the book to see what’s there. It makes sense once you’ve reached the end. Also, the paperback probably won’t have the same cover. If you look at the paperback versions of SK novels on the shelves today you’ll notice the incredible cover art of the hardbacks is gone.

I really liked the creative way Stephen handled profanity in this novel. It’s still not a novel for young kids and it would easily earn a PG-13 rating if it was a movie. Why not an R rating? Because Stephen does a wonderful job of not pouring buckets of blood across the pages. Yes, there is blood. Yes, there is death. No, it’s not done in a gorefest fashion. The two most graphic moments are no worse than what you would see in PG-13 movies today.

It’s a good read and I think any Stephen King fan will enjoy it.

BOOL! The End!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

I'm The Vampire, That's Why.

Although Penguin has this book categorized as Paranormal Romance I feel anytime you have vampires feeding on people you have a horror story.

When I first saw I'm The Vampire, That's Why by Michele Bardsley I thought "Chick book!" and picked up a Jack Ketchum book instead. After I finished browsing the bookstore and found my wife and saw she was reading the cover and told me that I would really enjoy it. She's never done me wrong in book selection so I bought it. I am so glad she did.

Jessica Matthews is a single mother of two. Her husband left her for a younger woman and then died in a car wreck before she could finish divorcing him. Now she has to raise her young daughter and teenage son in a small town that is getting smaller every day as people move out.

Just when things seem their worst Jessica suddenly finds her life filled with vampires. First the one that bit her. Then the one that thinks he is her soul mate. Then the RVs full of vampires coming to town because they need a new place to live. If that's not enough it seems that ten other people from her small town have become vampires too. It couldn't possibly get worse. Could it?

Yes! Especially when she finds out she won't get to outlive her husband's mistress because she's now a vampire too. But that's not enough. While the vampires that have come to town seem friendly enough there is another group hunting them. These vampires, the Wraiths, want to take over the world. If having vampires move in with more vampires chasing them isn't enough, where are the werewolves that show up going to stay? Things were bad enough when Jessica was a single mother of two with PTA meetings. Now she has to deal with all of this and convince her children that she isn't a monster.

Jessica is a great leading character. I thought of her as being an example of "Girl Power" at the start of the book but by the end my thoughts had changed. She is a great example of "Mother Power." She stands up for herself and is not afraid in the least to make her opinion known. Although she quickly adapts to being a vampire with all of the benefits she never fails to put her children first in everything.

This isn't your typical vampire book. Nor is it your typical romance book. It's a wonderful combination of the two. Michele does an incredible job of mixing the horror of vampires with the challenges of motherhood and a wonderful sense of humor. The level of romance is perfect. Not too much for most men and not too little for most women.

Michele Bardsley does a great job of breathing life into the various characters and you will not find yourself confused about which character is doing what. Each is unique and important in his or her own way to the plot.

The book comes in at 321 pages. I read it in two days completing 182 pages in the first day. It's not often I find myself with a book that I literally cannot put down. The story is direct, entertaining and fast paced. How much did I enjoy this book? I loved it! It's on my re-read list. I am looking forward to reading more of Michele's work.

For all of you men out there still thinking "Yeah, but it's a chick book!" Trust me on this one. Buy this book. Read this book. Learn from this book. There are some tricks in the sex scenes that your lady wants you to learn. That's right, I said sex scenes. I can almost hear men rushing off to the bookstore now.

In discussing I'm The Vampire, That's Why how can I not help but quote another masterpiece? “It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”

I want to give a big "Thank You!" to Michele Bardsley for allowing me to quote the following:

"I couldn't scream. I couldn't lift my arms. I couldn't open my eyes. But I felt my body again, every aching, pain-throbbing inch of it. The heavy, smelly thing pressing my limp body into thorny branches and noisily smacking against my throat grunted and rolled off. Dry grass crunched and leaves rattled as it moved, growling and groaning like a well-fed coyote. I didn't flicker an eyelid for fear it would try for a killing blow, though if the state of my neck wound was as bad as I thought, I was dead anyway. Then I heard the sounds of bare feet slapping against pavement and realized the thing was running away. Fast.

I don't remember how I disentangled my sorry self from the bushes. I have vague memories of the roses' too sweet scent as I crawled across the street and collapsed near my knocked-over garbage cans.

For those who know me, meeting my end amid the muttered curses and spilled refuse was not a great shock. But, shock or not, it was still a crappy way to go."

Now that is a great way to get a story going.

Friday, January 5, 2007


Horrorween by Al Sarrantonio is ok. It's not the great horror novel but it gets the job done.

Essentially you have two short stories, Hornets & The Pumpkin Boy, along with a novella, Orangefield. Each of these stories were published on their own originally and that's how they read in this book. While there are small elements that connect them along with the monster "Sam" aka: Samhain. Horrorween won't be on my re-read list but it's ok. Consider it to be safe horror.

Because we have three stories I'll cover them individually.

Hornets - What happens when a writer suffers writers block? Does it affect just the writer or those he loves? How much is he willing to trade to great stories again? The writer in Hornets has to write a horror story for children but has hit the block. It's only after his wife threatens to leave him that he has the idea to conver Samhain, the Lord of Death, to a spooky but friendly children's character named Sam. This explains why he isn't referred to as Samhain much during the rest of the book. A good short story.

Intermission - Samhain talks with a dark force/power that needs him to set it free.

The Pumpkin Boy - Sci-fi horror. There is what appears to be a boy with a pumpkin for a head wandering the fields of Orangefield. Young Jody Wendt sees the Pumpkin Boy and can't help but follow him in the hopes of learning more about him. A police officer from Hornets reappears in The Pumpkin Boy to help connect to the two stories but to also serve a vital role. Where does this Pumpkin Boy come from? Why does he lead small children from their homes and across the pumpkin fields? What secret does the new detective in town keep that can answer these questions? Like Hornets this is a good short story, especially if you like a bit of sci-fi / technology thrown in with your horror.

Intermission - Samhain talks with a dark force/power that needs him to set it free.

Orangefield - This is the most graphic of the three stories. The name of the town all three of the stories have taken place in. Very little in common with the first two stories and stands on it's own. Sam really takes on the monster role in this story with the various ways he motivates people to do his bidding. To set the dark force free three suicides are required. It's not specified why three or why they have to be suicides. Why not sacrifices of loved ones? There is also a time line continuity problem with one of the characters. In two days he will go from raving lunatic to a level headed, as level as he can be, after being arrested, processed by the court, presented to a judge, then experiencing shock therapy, talk therapy and medicine therapy. All within two days? It's a bit much. Of all of the characters to appear in this story I found The Pumpkin Tender to be the most realistic but that is probably because we both have a military background.

Afterward - Samhain talks with a dark force/power that needs him to set it free.

I found the ending to be a bit of a let down. It seemed too predictable plus it was a very open ending for a sequel. Speaking of which, a sequel was written. It seems Al comes back to Orangefield a few times to tell stories. Nothing wrong with that. Look at how many stories Stephen King got out of Castle Rock.

The book is a nice distraction and easy to read. Hardcore horror fans will want more but for the casual reader it's a nice horror treat.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


If you are looking for an early review of the new movie Primeval I regret to inform you that you will not find one here. You won't find a review of it here at all.

I mentioned in the Off Season review that "I hate it when a book, or movie, or anything uses artwork for promotion that doesn't match the actual product." This applies to commercials as well. The television spots for Primeval promote a "serial killer" with over 300 victims. The commercials make references to Jack the Ripper and other murderers in history. They even point out the story is based on actual events.

Here's the problem. The "serial killer" in the movie isn't a person. It's a crocodile known as Gustave. Does this mean we can call the shark from Jaws a serial killer? What about the dog from Cujo? As long as we are using labels the wrong way why don't we starting calling him "Jack the Lover" instead of Ripper?

The "actual events" the commercials hype? You can read the truth at the BBC News website.

If a movie requires misleading marketing to get people into the theaters it makes me wonder how bad the movie really is. Had the advertising been more truthful I might have gone to see it, but advertising this misleading guarantees I won't.

I just wish that The Lost was playing in theaters nation wide. Now that's a movie I want to see.