Every now and then I get an email review request that just makes my week, and this week I was contacted by the nice people over at Bloomsbury with the chance to review a new craft book called EVIL KNITS a collection of knitting projects from Hannah Simpson. I had a huge smile on my face for the whole day after this. Now okay I am not a knitter and I have never even tried but flicking through this book has actually made me want to try it out.
For my fellow horror fans this book will be just one of the most fantastic Non-Fiction horror craft books of 2012. You can make a Freddy hand puppet, a knitted Nosferatu, a zombie egg cosy and a monster mobile for your child’s crib to name just a few of these amazing projects. If like me you are a total novice at knitting do not fear, Hannah Simpson gives a helpful guide to the equipment you will need as well as a how to section at the start of the book.
I am seriously suggesting you go out there and you buy this book even if you are a novice or never thought you would pick up those needles. Hannah Simpson also has a portfolio of projects surrounding horror over on her Flickr page so why not go and take a look! http://www.flickr.com/photos/electricbiscuit/sets/1232669/
Release Date: 30th August 2012
I love to champion new authors here at Snakebite. So imagine you’re a new author and you’ve made it as far as getting your first novel published. The joy of getting that far is enough but things can easily take a terrible turn. What comes next decides whether or not all that time you spent hunched over your computer through those long and lonely nights was worth it or not; reviews.
So when I read a piece by a new author I like to concentrate on the positive, and even steer whatever was wrong in the story in the right direction. I don’t like to rip people to shreds unless I really have to.
Paul Johnson’s debut novel is something I’d like to champion; even its theme is familiar. If you enjoyed the action and dystopia in The Hunger Games, you’ll probably love this. If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s The Running Man, then you’ll find yourself welcome in the arena of Survival Horror. But where King used condemned criminals and Collins has an enforced lottery; Johnson uses the interesting device of volunteers desperate for cash and a chance to buy their way out of poverty. Set in a society where the economic gap has widened, jobs are scarce and the population’s only joy is a mindlessly violent game show where the aim of the game is to survive and kill for bonus points. I even had a shudder at the set-up and preparation of the game show where men volunteer to be dropped into a sealed area to face off against deranged prisoners twisted on mind bending drugs.
The story is short and satisfying as Johnson doesn’t waste much time in setting up the situation before he heads off at breakneck speed through splatters of gore and double cross’s whilst making it as easy as possible for the reader to enjoy themselves without feeling like your missing anything out. I even found myself chuckling at points at sly references to the future and a few decent one liners. We have an admirably hero, despicable villains, and a seemingly never ending army of infected psychos wanting to tear our hero apart, all set against a time limit which adds another welcome dynamic tension to proceedings. A few typo’s and maybe a little more descriptions on the gore front wouldn’t have gone amiss are my only gripes with this piece, aside from that, Survival Horror is a welcome member to the zombie literature family
But Johnson is asking a much bigger question than will desperate men kill other men for money. This is where the world is heading, it is scarily eventual. We’re already in a world where more kids recognize the Churchill dog than his prime minister namesake, where as a society we’re happy for the next generation to be raised on a gruesome culture of children aspiring and subscribing the quick cash and soullessness of becoming a celebrity. We’re being numbed and dumbed down by trite TV so we don’t revolt against the constant oppression that life shovels upon us. Live violent death on TV is the next taboo to be broken by the media, it won’t be long. We have herds of wannabes willing to be served up as tube fodder for the chance of fame, fortune and notoriety. We have acres of rundown areas and council tenements waiting to be fence off as an arena. Prisoners; pah, I’m sure if the conservatives get in for a few more years then the death penalty could easily be reinstated so we can get pedophiles and murderers wired up on plant food and let them loose on the cast of The Only Way is Essex. The crazy thing is, in the world we live in today, a show like Survival Horror wouldn’t be amiss on the TV guide. The sick thing is, it’ll more than likely be a ratings hit.
Johnson also includes a few bonus shorts, namely King of Bling
, in which involves a tomb with a curse. Short Sharp Shocker
gives us a glance into a probable future where overpopulation is our downfall. The Importance of Social Networking
gives us a killer who takes Face Book a little too literally. My favourite short however was The Receipts,
which comically peeks into the wallet of a disgruntled husband.
Available on Kindle and Paperback from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Survival-Horror-A-Zombie-Story/dp/1611990564/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340911980&sr=8-1
Black Mirrors is short story collection set around the rather obvious reoccurring theme of mirrors. Not every tale runs with this central theme, but Edwards manages to create a credible universe by setting the majority of the stories in the same rundown urban gothic areas of Slake and Lagg; though modern, the stories pull a timeless, almost Lovecraftian veil over the readers mind. This said, it goes to show that the wide spectrum of the horror genre is applicable anywhere in fiction throughout the history of human literary efforts. The included story, The Sea and the Statues, my favourite in the collection, pulls this off effortlessly, bringing a Greek myth feel to proceedings. I won’t spoil the twist ending, but the story serves as an adequate prequel to one of the most popular Greek myths.
With a incubi theme, The Foundling was another favourite of mine, although it does follow Incubus by Joe Donnelly who explores the idea of an incubi infant thoroughly in his excellent 1997 novel. But still as a standalone story, The Foundling does offer a short moment of terror as two elderly sisters find themselves in possession of a very hungry infant abandoned on their doorstep.
Nightmares provides us with a short, though chilling insight into what goes on in the background of a mind of a monster, a sure thought that we all have monsters swelling inside us, just waiting until our own psychosis bubble over and break through that mirror of sanity which we reflect upon the world.
Another standout story is Bequeathed in which Edwards ramps up the tension inch by inch as a police officer uncovers something sinister in a flat on his beat, which changes the lives on anyone who comes into contact with what lies inside.
On the strength of these stories and a few others I’d give Black Mirror a full five stars but a few of stories I encountered failed to fully gel or create a spark of unease within me as they tried to rely on a fear of oneself rather than that of an outside threat which just didn’t work for me despite the fact they were well written, it was just that some plots failed to take off. But don’t get me wrong, there are greater more established authors out there whose short story collections I’ve devoured and felt a similar feeling of vague emptiness on one or two stories. This been said, what I enjoyed was excellent, and what I didn’t wasn’t bad as such, just not of a greater calibre than the top tales.
All in all I look forward to more from Paul Edwards. He writes well, creating a grimy sense of impending doom that stays with the reader. Should he bring out another collection or perhaps even a full length novel I’ll be sure to check it out. But first I’ll have to decide whether cover up all the mirrors; or simply smash them from their frames, just to be on the safe side.
RAWR BRAINS… Seems to be the ongoing “zombie style” for writing and movies. I personally get tired of the “same old-same old” zombie stories. When one of my friends suggested I check out this novel, due to it’s non-normal-zombie-story, I did. Sure, it still has the “RAWR BRAINS” moments in it, like you would expect from a zombie story, but “Brains” is something a little different.
Meet Jack Barnes, he’s a professor/recently turned zombie. He can’t voice what he wants to say, but he knows he is different than the others around him. On top of his want for brains, there’s something else, a glimmer in his eye or a cognizance, if you have to call it something. He knows he’s not like all the other brain-eaters out there. He knows this because he can think and write.
A newly zombified Jack sets out on a cross-country trek to find the creator of the zombie virus, hoping to prove that not all zombies are mindless brain munchers as he quests for zombie/human equality. Along the way, he finds other zombies who are like him and slowly builds a group of zombies who have “talents”.
The first cognizant zombie he comes to meet is Joan. She is, or was, a nurse and has the ability to maintain the decomposition zombies face on a daily basis. She can repair and mend injuries with things she finds, like a Dead Doctor McGuyver.
Guts, an eviscerated young zomboy, is the next one to join the ragtag group of zombies with abilities. Not only does he understand, Guts can also run even though he’s decomposing at the same rate as every other zombie around him.
Then comes Ros, the first zombie who can converse since he hasn’t lost his ability to talk or remember.
Finally, Annie joins the group. The dead little sharpshooter makes for a welcome addition to the ragtag group of undead.
Throughout the entire novel, Robin Becker
manages to create humour in what should be a tale about a horrific, zombie-filled world. Becker manages to create feelings of sympathy in the reader for her characters, even though they are zombies. On the flip side, the reader gets to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes… on dead legs.
Brains is a fun, well-written, different kind of zombie story for those who want a tale that isn’t like all the others.http://mandydegeit.wordpress.com/
When offered the chance to read a collection of short stories from one of my fellow www.spinetinglers.co.uk
members, I jumped at the chance as the site has proved to be the birth place for some fantastic emerging writers wanting to strike out for the first time. If you haven’t visited yet, I urge that you do. Free stories by some great writers you’ve probably never heard of. And with £100 first each month, the quality isn’t to be sniffed at. Dark Corners
, the title story starts us off, with a trip into the corner of our eyes and the dark, sinister things that exist in the depths of one fearful man’s gaze. An interesting premise that really cranks up the sense of impending dread as our protagonist fears for his life and sanity. The Collector
unnerved me a little as my son has the same name as the strange child in this. Any parent would be horrified to bring up a child such as the one you’ll find here; one who likes to collect ‘things’ . . . Dead by Twelve
is a Laymonesque turn of the screw as a desperate woman finds herself at the receiving end of a phone call that tells her she’ll be “dead by twelve”. I felt myself gripped as Curnow upped the tension as the final hour approaches and passes, ending the story with a punch line that delivers the rend twist perfectly.
Other standout stories include The Walker
in which a shoe obsessed thief finds herself literally walking to hell in a visionary piece which worked terrifically on so many levels. Inside
brings us a new fanatical mother who finds herself caring more for what lurks behind the bedroom wall than her child. Retribution
starts off as a visceral study of a horrific kidnap that gradually dissects itself to justify the kidnapper actions. The Quiet Man
presents us with an atmospheric rendition of a man finally tipped over the edge by his scum of the earth family, and how he gets The Quiet Man
to help him. Origin
would easily work well as a competent Sci-Fi film, as a young woman discovers that her maddening dreams of abduction aren’t really in her head.
For me these are the stand out stories, the rest however do seem to need a little more work to flesh them out and build on characters and prose. But remember, this is an amateur’s effort into the field, so some teething problems can be forgiven, simply for the narrative drive of the better stories save this collection, most of which surprised me with their originality.
Many of the stories are set in Curnow’s native Cornwall, so if you live in, or hold a love of visiting the area I’d recommend this collection as it delves into various folktales, using real locales. So if you fancy taking a cheap and frightful trip into the world of a new writer, you find some memorable little nuggets in this bloody collection.
Purchase Link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/170039
Remember those shock horror exploitation movies from the 70’s and 80’s? Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, Eaten Alive etc, etc. Some even alluded to being snuff films showing real gore, which gave further mileage to the famed ‘video nasties’.
Adam Cesare’s debut novel deals with one such shoot in which a Euro trash director, Tito Bronze maroons his cast and crew on a desolate isle with the intention of utilising the local natives. When the local are nowhere to be found, the castaways realise that they’ve made their first mistake by coming here. What follows is a supernatural, splatterfest; long enough to be devoured in one grisly chunk, but short enough to leave you hungry for more as Cesare offers his victims up as a buffet to ghosts of the islanders who seem intent on making their own film, with which much more realistic special effects than the director originally intended. It’s an interesting premise which jets along too quickly, taking no prisoners (well one or two); Cesare could have easily dragged it out with a few more victims to up the gore count and I would still being happy. There’s just enough meat on the bone to keep your interest sated throughout, the characterisations are short, but apt; the shortness of it all melds it altogether to a satisfyingly little tidy piece.
One thing I did seem to notice what that even though characters became possessed, they seemed very much in control of their own actions, not becoming mindless zombies or cannibalistic drones, but interestingly they seem to want to chop up and feast on the innards of their cast members, almost as if the persuasion of the ghosts wasn’t even needed. They all know they were making a cannibal movie, but it seems the hidden message is that given isolation from society, life imitating art is a dangerous thing as filmmaker and stars hunger for fame in a very disturbing way. You can imagine a curious, blood-covered cannibal holding our insides up to the light as they wonder ‘so that’s how this works . . .’
The scary thing is, there’s a cannibal in all of us; all it takes is for us to the first bite of the precious flesh . . .
Hollywood can (and does) make much worse films than this. If zombies are in vogue now, why not cannibals? I could easily imagine Daniel Craig as Umberto getting his proverbial acting chops around a meaty role such as this one. And you could so a worse than not making this the next book you devour. A short, satisfying read that’ll fill the eager stomach of any horror fan.
I was introduced to Rio Youers
and his writing when I attended my first horror convention. I picked up a copy of his novel, Mama Fish and added it to my ever-growing pile of books to read. Mama Fish was a quick, good read that I highly enjoyed. Fueled by my enjoyment of Mama Fish and my love for short stories, I immediately jumped at the chance to pick up his next book, Dark Dreams, Pale Horses. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Dark Dreams, Pale Horses is a collection of six short stories written by Youers with an introduction by Brian Keene.
Pure: There is always a need for salvation during times of infection. Pure is a story set in the near future, however Youers spins a much different tale than what you’d expect from your regular run-of-the-mill vampire story.
This Is The Summer Of Love: Terri and Billy are the main characters in this story of love, protection, and need. Terri lives in a black and white world of sadness, at least until she meets Billy, who becomes her knight in Technicolor armor.
Ghost Of Lillian Bliss: An elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s recants a story from her childhood. While present memories seem to elude her, she has no problem digging up the images from her childhood.
Chrysalis: The world as we know it is now a cold, desolate place where people are forced up mountains to chase the sunlight and children are born at death’s door. Angelo, the main character, cares for the children in this touching fable of sorrow and hope.
Alice Bleeding: After an asteroid decimates parts of Australia, thirty-three survivors remain and wait for rescue. Sally, her four-month-old son and her husband survived but the bitterness she carries is destroying her marriage. The group waiting for rescue thinks the worst is over, but something more horrible approaches.
Promised Land Blues: Jonathan’s life long dream is to drive across the USA in a 1955 baby-pink Cadillac, stopping in every city mentioned in Elvis Presley’s song, “Promised Land”. While the road trip should be a week to remember, it takes a turn for the worse as mysterious events unfurl surrounding the ‘55 Cadillac.
Youers has a near-poetic way of writing. “Beautifully-written” would be the most accurate way to describe the rich environments, characters and the overall feel of every story.
I could find little wrong with BZRT; it’s nicely written, well plotted with enough twists and turns to keep any readers attention all the while being an interesting take on the zombie genre. The plot involving two friends, one who, by way of other worldly forces and a deal with a certain fallen angel, finds himself a fully fledged paid up member of the undead, is far enough away from traditional zombie fare to attract a full range of horror fans.
Dale and Jonah, our bickering polar opposite heroes, are two childhood friends, who chose a path of becoming a jobbing musical duo/band with high dreams of making it big with little chance of doing so with their different music tastes. By hook or by crook, Jonah finds himself with a dead friend on his hands and is given seven days to travel across country in order to save both of their souls with much devious interference from a certain ruler of the underworld. Along the way they pick up a stripper with a dangerous trail behind her, bringing a welcome romantic element to proceedings, and a much needed different dimension to the buddy movie that the book soon becomes. Not that’s a negative thing, BZRT does follow a traditional buddy formula with two opposites that grate and irritate each who suddenly find themselves as fish out of water and into the frying pan. But it’s well written banter, reminiscent of Shane Black witticisms (who should write and direct if they ever make this into a damned film, Sean William Scott as Dale, Anton Yelchin as Jonah. DO IT HOLLYWOOD! I DARES YA! ZOMBIES ARE VOGUE AT THE MOMENT!).
It’s refreshing to have a zombie character that isn’t simply a meat eater, someone who’s gaining a soul whilst they forward on their journey, using their affliction as a MacGuffin, not just something that must be fought and defeated, but something that must be saved, despite its hunger and it’s attitude towards the female kind. It would have been nice to see the Zombie get a little dirtier with his wanton desires, even if for comic effect, this would made the story a little more dangerous than it already is.
If you enjoyed the Kevin Smith produced ‘Reaper’, (which I miss; let’s bring back Ray Wise in this as the devil, eh?) then I’d thoroughly recommend this book to you. The plots not overly complicated but it works so damned well you don’t care. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a road trip- with a zombie, but strangely with heart and at core we have a friendship that can’t even be faulted by death, forged by comradeship and will to do right.