Monday, 1 February 2016

Review: All Roads Lead to Terror

You know what? Sometimes books make you want to wave your fist.


The horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present. 

Four boys strengthen the bonds of their friendship, while taking their first hesitant steps into adulthood as they face the brutality of an old, new, world. They will be tested at every step in their journey, as they travel through a blasted land where the only hope was for a swift death followed by an endless sleep. 

In Richmond they will be confronted by a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. A frightening being that feeds upon the fear of its victims, delving into their nightmares, revealing half forgotten secrets that lay like a rotting carcass at the heart of their souls. 

These creatures, once considered nightmare imaginings, are now awake in a world where the population that once served as their food source has been severely reduced. 

Awake and very, very, hungry.

Do you know how much I wanted to give this book five stars? Do you?

Richard Schiver is not an author I had read before. But I will again. All Roads is frankly Stephen King's Stand By Me, with zombies. But not too many. To call this a zombie novel would be  a misnomer. First and foremost this is a coming-of-age drama, written by a man with a deft hand for characterization, set within a dystopian backdrop.

And it's good. Like, really good.

I don't generally read books that have little gore, scares, and general horror (but I am expanding my horizons) however, I couldn't put the book down.

The way Schiver emotes the characters, the fact that they are all well defined, different, people, even though still young, was refreshing. I believed in them. I wanted them to live. I wanted them to fight. And when it came down to it, I rooted for them. Their motives. I wanted the group to resolve their internal conflicts.

And when the big bads did turn up? It was scary. Because they weren't around every corner. Hell, the other people are scary in this.

When I'm using terms like deft, well defined, internal conflict, and motive, you know it's a good book. When I liken it to King. Damn it's good.

So why not five stars?

The editing, I'm afraid. It's badly edited, and for me to say that, it must be noticeable.  Writing this, I don't have the book with me so I glanced down the preview on Amazon to pull out an example:


...at the end of the line of speech the quotes don't close. It's just niggling little things like that, and there are too many of them.

Which is a shame, because as I said: Really good


You can purchase Richard Schiver's excellent All Roads Lead to Terror here:


And meet Richard Schiver here:





Monday, 25 January 2016

Mr. Edmund Goat and the Elusive Clover, by Elisha Neubauer

Mr. Edmund Goat lives on Dartmouth Farm along with his best friend, Eli. The two goats have always been inseparable, but after Edmund discovers the location of a patch of clover, he will do anything to get to it. There’s only one thing standing between Edmund and the clover – the fence. 

Will Edmund find a way to the clover, or will he realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence?




Title: Mr. Edmund Goat and the Elusive Clover

Author: Elisha Neubauer

Illustrator: Alyssa Savery

Genre: Children’s Picture Books




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Author Bio:

The founder of European Geeks and a self-proclaimed nerd – Elisha is obsessed with faeries, witches, science fiction, the paranormal, and all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Doctor Who. Spending over a decade managing high volume businesses for others, Elisha decided to take a step back and focus on her own passions; leading her to open European Geeks Publishing. Elisha is an editor, reviewer, and freelance writer when not hard at work for European Geeks
Originally from the UK, Elisha now lives on a small family farm in Florida with her German husband and their three children, as well as an assortment of animals – peacocks, ducks, chickens, goats, pigs, and horses. Her children’s book, Mr. Edmund Goat and the Elusive Clover, illustrated by Alyssa Savery, launched  July 19th, 2015, The Kid's Guide to Werewolves will hit shelves in mid-2016, and her Dark Fantasy novel, RED, is scheduled for 2017.



Illustrator Bio: 

Although born in New Hampshire, Alyssa grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and currently resides in Florida. Always drawn to the art world, she studied animation at The Art Institute after graduating high school.  As a lover of all things geeky, Alyssa specializes in sci-fi and fantasy illustrations but has recently taken up character development. Recently, Alyssa began painting themed room murals and recently illustrated her first full-length children’s book, written by Elisha Neubauer. Alyssa handles cover art and illustrations for European Geeks Publishing.

Purchase links:




Tuesday, 5 January 2016

WordButt (ing) the First Draft.



No advice. Only motivation.

So I'm writing my next novel, cannily called UNTITLED, and I started on Jan. 1. No real reason, certainly not a New Year's Rez or anything. I was ready, had it plotted just before Christmas. I want it turned in to the publisher as soon as possible in the year, and I have other projects timetabled this year.

So I ran at it hoping for over 50% completion (first draft) before the end of the month.

Which I am easily on target for, at the moment, at least.

So I have my motivation. I have created my own timeline, and it's down to me to stick with it.

And that's the challenge.

You need to believe in yourself. Block out whatever is stopping you from doing it, and do it. You want it, right? You want to write whatever it is that you're writing? Then you can do it. I believe in YOU. If you believe in you too, then anything is possible. It's all achievable.

And you know what?

What can be the most depressing part?

No one will know the struggle you have gone through to actually write the thing.

But you also know what?

I'll know. You'll know.

And I will applaud you.

Captain Freakin' Picard will applaud you.

You go. You've got this.



Thursday, 31 December 2015

Review: Zombies Inside.

Zombies Inside, the latest collection from author, Rebecca Besser.



"If zombies are what you crave, open the pages of this book for a wild ride! The 12 zombie short stories within (equaling over 64,000 words) will make you cringe, delight your imagination, and possibly even warm your heart . . . so the undead can feast upon it! Be brave and see if you can survive the Zombies Inside!"

Okay, let me start with the one story included by guest author, Courtney Rene. Now, I've not read The Hunger Games, or anything like it, but I was immediately reminded of it with this offering. A young woman, zombie apoc, kill or be killed.

I've never read Courtney Rene, but I am now tempted to pick up a Howl in the Night book.

Her writing was flowing and reminded me of some bleak mashup of Douglas Adams and Richard Laymon. It's funny and distressing at the same time. In such a short piece it gave me a believable world. Ms. Rene, Courtney, if you are reading this: Write THIS. I want a novel of this. It is excellent.

That is all.

So, to Besser.

Just to get this out of the way at the start, as always, Rebecca Besser puts out well edited, well formatted work. Apart from the occasional minor editing error, it goes without saying the book is presented well.

Besser's own stories are all good, of course. We expect nothing else from her these days.

One or two of the stories did stand out for me. Most notably was "My Kind of Woman". The story is utterly mesmerizing. I could picture every second of it, even though it talked greatly of things I (as an Englishman) have never experienced. I loved the protagonist. The ending was perfect. What more can I say?

Other standouts included: The World of Zombies (which has personal meaning to me *winks*); When Plans Fail (utterly heartbreaking); and The Magic of Christmas (and it's sequel).

Each of the stories plucked at the heartstrings, with Besser emoting throughout. The collection gives a mix of stories as well, and I never once felt I was reading stories too similar, which is always a potential problem with single author, themed, collections.

Throughout reading the collection there seemed to be a slight change in style with some stories. Some seemed a little YA/NA to me. Most probably wouldn't notice, but I never venture into reading that style of material, so it caught me off guard. However, if you wanted a gateway book into the genre, I think that helps and would heartily recommend this as a starting point.

That said, if you like zombies and are looking for fun, scares, and emotion, this is also the book for you.




You can find out about Courtney Rene here:

http://www.amazon.com/Courtney-Rene/e/B004X6SS2Y/
www.Courtneyrene.com 

Rebecca Besser Here:

www.rebeccabesser.com

And buy the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Zombies-Inside-Rebecca-Besser-ebook/dp/B015ZZFGEE/
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zombies-Inside-Rebecca-Besser-ebook/dp/B015ZZFGEE/

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Review: GRIEF. The Horsemen Tetralogy

Okay, so I did some Google work on the author, Dimpra Kaleem, and came up with it being a pen name for someone else. Um. Whatever. To the book!


So, I picked this up...somewhere...I'm so freaking vague these days. It was on Amazon, and free, so I guess Bookbub? Or maybe a Facebook Group? I don't even know.

Anyway. Between longer reads I thought I'd jump in and read it. It's like 45 pages on Kindle.

From salvation to damnation.

When an act of desperation leads to a demonic deal, one man must pay the price of his arrogance.

The Horsemen are being assembled - renewed and renamed.

Grief, Fury, Hatred and Lust.

Each with a story to tell. 

Okay, the synopsis gives nothing away, and hell, neither will I. Rolling it into one sentence, a parson - preacher - is about to lose everything, and starts to make deals...if you get my drift. It's dark fantasy. Modern horror. It's really well written. There are a few grammatical errors, but aside from that the formatting is excellent.

Kaleem brings humor, a well written word, and a twisted realism to the world that he has created. And good it is too. The protagonist is realistic and within the story (it'll make more sense when you read it, and I suggest you do) you have no idea who is who.

For such a short story it brings in a great sense of worldliness.

I was - am - sold on it. 

I cannot wait for the next one. 

Hold on. I've said nothing about the written word. The story is written with a light touch. It's very 'fun' to read. It bounces along, and lets you enjoy the scenes. It does have its dark moments though, trust me. And by dark, I mean pitch fucking black. 

That's not to say that a younger reader (Late YA) would not enjoy it. 

I'll say this: It has stuck with me. Kaleem has pitched me. I know he's there. I just need more.



You can purchase the book here:

  

WITCHES: Tea Party to be released under the EGP Family.

This is just a quick (late) announcement.

WITCHES: Tea Party is to be published Feb.16 by the good people at European Geeks Publishing. I had already announced the release when owner Elisha Neubauer expressed an interest in it. She totally dug it, and brought it into the fold.

As many of you know, I'm moving away more and more from self publishing. This is not because I struggle with it. No, quite the opposite. I am proficient in formatting and cover art, I know some awesome editors, and I can publish across multiple formats. That's the easy part. No, I see my self published work adrift in a sea of other self published work, and I want to work with a publisher. 

The Hand will stay self published until the four planned parts are out, and then the omnibus? Who knows. And I've also got at least two more stories to tell in that universe, so we'll see. I also plan on re-releasing Small Cuts to the Psyche some time in the future, with some internal changes, new cover art etc., however that works out.

So anyway. Mark your diary. Coming February 16 from European Geeks Publishing:







Tuesday, 29 December 2015

How To ART.*

Yep.

This is it.

Firstly, answer me this. What is...writing? Your writing? Mine? Anybody's? Yes. ANYBODY'S. It's simple. It's art, right? You're creating something that people will look at and appreciate. You know, like Matisse, and Rembrandt.

Jackson Pollock did this:


And it's pretty fucking amazing. No? Did I hear you correctly? It's bollocks? Oh, you're one of those. Well what about this?

This is by Constable:


Wow. I mean, look at the lighting. The Hay? The Wain? 

But, you're asking me now, what the fuck I'm talking about. Art. Look at the two pictures. Wait. Never mind. Look at the movements:

Abstract Expressionism; Academic Art; American Regionalism; American Scene; Art Deco; Art Nouveau; Arte Povera; Arts and Crafts Movement; Ashcan School; Barbizon School; Baroque Art; Bauhaus; Camden Town Group; Blaue Reiter; Brücke; Byzantine Art; Canadian Group Of Seven; Classicism; Contemporary Realism; Cubism; Cubist Realism (Precisionism); Dada; Der Blaue Reiter; Die Brücke; Die Neue Sachlichkeit; Divisionism (Pointillism); Early Renaissance; Expressionism; Fauvism; Futurism; Golden Age of Illustration; Gothic Art; Group Of Seven; Harlem Renaissance; High Renaissance; Hudson River School; Impressionism; Japanese Ukiyo-e; Les Nabis; Magic Realism; Mannerism; Minimalism; Nabis; Neoclassicism; Neo-Impressionism (Pointillism); Neo-Plasticism; Neue Sachlichkeit; Northern Renaissance; Op Art; Photorealism; Pointillism; Pop Art; Post-Impressionism; Precisionism; Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; Realism; Regionalism; Renaissance, Early; Renaissance, High; Renaissance, Northern; Rococo Style; Romanticism; Sensation Show; Social Realism; Surrealism; Symbolism; Tonalism; Ukiyo-e; Victorian Classicism.

This is (one of) the list(s) of art movements as listed by Wikipedia.  

Every single one of these movements was created by some fucker saying, 

"FUCK YOU, I'M DOING IT MY WAY."
(paraphrased, of course)

You want to know what else? If Stephen King wanted to follow the rules of, what, say, Shakespeare, Carrie might have been written in iambic pentameter. Yeah. Think about that. Think real hard about that. Then Google it. Now back to me. See what I'm saying?

"News item from Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED."

Not so much Iamb, more...news report?

You want to follow the rules, then fine. I'm certainly not saying that's wrong. But breaking the rules, bending them... that's how you create something new. Something people want to talk about.

But you want to really go that extra mile?

'Cause that's the real secret. If you read this far, of course. (I know, a list art movements isn't exactly exciting.)

If you want to break the system. If you want to be a movement, firstly learn the rules. Learn every fucking one of them. You don't need to use them. But you should have used them. But once you know them, you know their purpose, you know why they are there, then you can break them.

Be an artist, and be able to use iambic pentameter in conversation with other people who also know what it is. (In other words don't be a pretentious cock-womble)    

Write some. It is, can be in the right hands, hauntingly beautiful. It brings gothic architecture to the page.

Then break it.

Use it.

BE A MOVEMENT.




*Or, "How to Make the Words From Your WordButt Yours."