Sunday, July 31, 2016

Imperial Bedrooms

     Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis 3/5 stars
                                                           
   


     The question here is did we really need a sequel to Less Than Zero? If you haven't read that novel you should. It's a fine debut and one that some people regard as a classic. The answer is a resounding no because you can't really do a sequel to a novel like that. The characters just aren't that interesting. They're shallow, and boring so what would the sequel even be about? Then the question of why did Ellis do a sequel and the answers are easy to come by. Money, a career slump? Makes sense and as I began to read Imperial Bedrooms I wondered if I would regret it.

      Bedrooms picks up after twenty-five years after the events of Less Than Zero and the characters once again are shallow and haven't really changed all that much. Clay is now a screen writer and the others are really just props to keep the novel moving forward. Rip the drug dealer actually is a huge part of this one and as the novel wears on the story becomes clear. It's almost like a yuppie mystery with a dead actor showing up and Clay himself is being stalked by someone. The big question is who are these people and why are they so interested in Clay? The first half of the novel is mediocre at best. Ellis just seems to be going through the motions and as usual his writing style is pretty sparse. Everyone it seems is just a prop to move along the story and for awhile nothing really happens.

     Once we met Rain, Ellis comes to life and the story perks up. Now we see why Clay is being followed and we realize that Julian's a bit of a douchebag. It's the second half of the novel that really saves this from being a boring shit sandwich. The characters are still lackluster and the plot while almost an afterthought really moves forward as Ellis begins to hit his stride. The novel is really about Clay and his relationship with Rain. We know why she's with him, and so does Clay but he fails to see that he's not important enough to be truly be with her. This is Hollywood where everyone's shallow and everyone has ulterior motives. None of the characters are likable at all but it's the mystery of it all that makes this sort of entertaining.

      The beginning of the novel talks about Julian being murdered and when you see how and why it's shocking. At its core the novel has moments of shocking brutality especially when we realize that Clay has a bit of a dark side. As a narrator he keeps things simple and never reveals too much about himself but it's hinted at through other characters. Ellis plays everything close to the vest and doesn't even hint at what's about to transpire and when it hits you truly don't expect it. It's a very short read but not entirely terrible.

     Is it better than Less Than Zero? Are you insane? No, but it's not a book that feels as if it's done to generate some cash flow or make Ellis relevant again. It's a chance to catch up with his characters and see how they are. They haven't changed much, but did you really expect them too? Did you expect Blair to be a stay at home mom? Did you think that Julian would wrestle his demons to the ground and then open up a day care in Hollywood? Of course you didn't. The thing is that most of us never thought about these characters at all after finishing Less Than Zero and seeing them older also makes us feel a bit older.

     The good news is that it's not a terrible book. If you've read Brett's work before you know what to expect. Just don't expect anything new, or some deep insight into the characters. They're all selfish and mostly just props to move the story along. You don't get to meet them or even have some kind of attachment to them which would have helped this book a bit. It's a nice glimpse at characters that Ellis wanted to revisit and if you're at your local library you should pick it up. Don't buy it unless you can find it really cheap.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Cemetery Girl

      Cemetery Girl - David Bell  5/5 stars
                                                         
     

      David Bell's debut novel is a dark disturbing tale that goes places that most novels won't go because they want to create this warm fuzzy feeling that leaves readers weeping and running off to their book clubs demanding that this be their next read. Let's be honest here and admit that the world is a messed up place so why should we read a novel that presents the dark side of human nature? Why should we read Cemetery Girl? The answer is simple. It's as close to reality as you're going to get in popular fiction. We've read the stories about kidnapped kids and everyone lives happily ever after. What if they don't? What if some writer decided to tackle the grim reality of what could happen?

      Bell's novel is full of flawed characters. The parents are divided and on the verge of divorce and it's even hinted at that the wife is having an affair with the pastor. The father refuses to let go which if you're a father you can clearly relate. This is your child you never give up and move on. There's also Buster who is a really shady character with a criminal past. I truly detested Abby and hoped that at some point that she'd get hit by a bus or just go away. Let me be honest and say it; she's a cunt. She clings to her religion like a life raft and decides that after four years it's time to move on and they even have a bullshit memorial for her complete with a headstone.

     Then Caitlin returns and you expect to get to have some feels and you do for a minute but here's where Bell really sticks the knife in our back and the novel just gets even darker. This is where Bell truly shines as a writer. He refuses to give us our heart warming family hug and we see that things aren't going to go as well as we hoped. Cemetery Girl is not an easy book to read and the actions of the characters do in fact seemed flawed but here's the thing. You have to take away the rational thoughts and place yourself in Tom's shoes. Here's a father who has finally gotten his daughter back after four years and the homecoming he envisioned is not happening. His daughter is in love with her kidnapper and wants to return to him.

       It sounds crazy, I know but if you're a parent you can see yourself as Tom. You can see your marriage imploding and your daughter who you failed to protect is now a stranger. These events seem completely nuts but again, this is not your typical aw shucks we got the feels and everyone is so happy. Not every story has a happy ending and Bell is not about to trick us into thinking that everything worked out fine. Caitlin is home so now the marriage is back on track and we can go back to being a happy family. You're not reading that type of book and as a father I can see myself doing exactly what Tom did. As a father you want to know what happened to your daughter. It's a question that would eat at you and you would do anything to have the answers. This is a powerful novel and one that doesn't try and coddle us and tell us that everything is going to be fine. Bell has given us a story that you will either love or hate. There's no middle ground and I think Bell knew that as he was writing it. He was channeling raw emotion and that sometimes clouds our judgement and makes us react in ways that seem almost idiotic to outsiders.

      For a debut he picked a controversial topic but one he handled extremely well, He could have approached this like every other writer and given us the same story that we've read a hundred times. There's no meat left on those bones so Bell went off in search of a fresh prospective and one that tackles real grief and a real life what if  by not playing it safe. Cemetery Girl is shocking and yes, even disturbing. None of the characters behave the way we expect them too and that's okay. Everyone is going to react to this differently which is what's supposed to happen. It's a truly compelling read and for a debut it's really damn good. This is one writer I plan on reading more from and hope it matches the strength and honesty of Cemetery Girl.


   

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The James H Longmore Interview

       James H Longmore is a talented writer that clearly doesn't follow any set genre or rules. No matter what you pick up you're in for one helluva read and he was willing to allow me to interview him. If you haven't heard of him you will. It's just a matter of time. Thanks James for taking the time to answer a few questions 



First I have to ask where did the idea for The Erotic Sexual Odyssey Of Colton Forshay come from? 

A: Strangely enough, I actually dreamt the opening line ‘it was raining bodily fluids again…’ and coupled that with a stray memory of a TV show I saw years ago about a guy who was in a relationship with his car (I remember to this day the abject look of sheer disappointment on the guy’s father’s face as his grown-ass son explained to him how he and the car made love. The book just kinda grew from there…  

Was there ever moment while you’re writing it and think; “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” 

A: I set out to write a novel that I’d imagine the Monty Python team would have written had they been in the bizarro market but still, quite possibly during some of the more way-out scenes! I remember wondering if the game show (‘Rape’) on which Colton’s wife died was a step too far and the old guy in the supermarket trying to pay for his groceries with sex would be a hard one to swallow…

What’s the feedback been like? I’m sure there are those who are either shocked or offended by the subject matter. 

A: I’ll be honest, the feedback has taken me very much by surprise!  It has been awesome, and I’ve not had a visit from Homeland Security! People absolutely love Colton and his bizarre adventures and are lapping up the grotesquerie and bizarre erotica. 

Will there be a sequel in the works?

A: I’m not really one for sequels, but there’s always the chance. I think Mr. Forshay may have more erotic, bizarre adventures I up his sleeve in that strange world of his….;

You also wrote a novel called Pede which I cannot wait to read. Is that straight horror and how do you go from giant centipedes to bizarro erotica? 

A: Oddly enough, ‘Pede was the first novel I wrote (prior to that it had been screenplays) – an homage to all those fantastic creature movies and novels I grew up with.  Moving from that to Colton was easier than you might think – it was simply a matter of taking the harness off and letting my creative brain roam free (and see where that got me!). 

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? 

A: Back in elementary school, when all the other kids wanted to be astronauts, cops and accountants (an odd boy, was Andy Martin), I wanted to write books!  I wrote my first book aged seven, entitled ‘Stick Insects’ which was about stick insects. My second book followed shortly thereafter and was entitled ‘Dinosaurs & Moths’ (guess the subject!) because my interest switched from paleontology to entomology literally overnight. Sadly, neither have been picked up for publishing (maybe Jaded Books Publishing may consider it?), although I am considering the latter title for use on my upcoming anthology.  

You also host Co-host the New Panic Room Podcast. How did that come about? 

A: I was invited on to the show as a guest and people fell in love with my accent (Yorkshire – think Sean Bean as James Bond) – and they invited me back as co-host. The show has undergone some changes since then, under my influence, and is about to go through its final metamorphosis which will see it competing with the best of ‘em! 

Where can we find it?

A:Follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/ThePanicRoomRadioShow/?fref=ts

Who are some of your biggest influences?

A: Jeeez, where do I start?  Stephen King (obviously!), a brilliant UK horror author named James Herbert (his first book ‘The Rats’ was the very first grown-up horror novel I ever read, and ‘Pede is kind of my personal homage to that mighty tome), John Wyndham, HG Wells, Lovecraft, Monty Python, Clive Barker, Chuck Palahniuk, Joe Hill (the acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree there!), Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Wrath James White - I could go on and on…

Aside from horror and bizarro are there any other genres you’d like to explore?

A: I’d love to write a kid’s book, one that my little girl could read!  I have written kid’s and family friendly screenplays, but never a book suitable for children. I have the ideas, just looking for a great artist to work with!
I also wish I had the patience for science fiction – I used to love Asimov, LeGuin and Clarke as a kid, but my stories tend to be tight and claustrophobic and do not encompass entire worlds and beyond.

When you’re writing do you outline or write notes? 

A:I do, I do (almost an ABBA song!) – without an outline I’d just ramble on indefinitely and (literally!) lose the plot. And without notes, I’d forget stuff!  I make notes on my phone, on neon green Post Its, in my document as I’m writing, I even have a waterproof notepad in the shower!


Any other projects in the work and if so can you tell us a little bit about them?

A: My fourth novel (And Then You Die – J Ellington Ashton) just came out, it’s a darkly comedic bizarro tale of fecal spirits. Then we have to wait for 2017 for the one after that, it’s a psychological horror (Flanagan – Sinister Grin Press). Then it’s back to traditional horror for ‘Tenebrion’ (TBA – you’re the first to know about this one!) and the work in progress is a dystopian crime thriller (working title: Dead to Rights). Oh yeah, and not forgetting ‘Dinosaurs and Moths’ ! 

What advice would you give to writers? 

A: I’d say ‘write’. Don’t be one of those people who always says ‘Oh, I’m thinking of writing a novel’, and remember that sitting in Starbucks talking loudly about writing is not actually writing and will get you the sum total of nothing. 

We’ve talked a bit about the bizarre genre on the podcast. Do you think it’ll ever return to where it was four years ago? 

A: I’d like to think so. Sadly, bizarro has kind of wandered off into the uber-grotesque and gratuitously sexual for the sake of it. All stories need a great plot, engaging characters, a beginning, middle and end. I hope that my books The Erotic Odyssey of Colton Forshay, Buds & And Then You Die may help to turn this unfortunate tide. 

What are you currently reading? 

A: I always have a lot of reading on the go, I love to read what my fellow indi writers are putting out there, as well as the big boys’ stuff!  Currently – ‘Gerald’s Game’ (King), ‘The Everborn’ (Nick Grabowsky), ‘Darkness of the Soul’ (Noe) and ‘Rejected for Content IV (an anthology in which I have a story: ‘Snuffed: Fifty Shades of F****d Up’. 

Now I turn the floor over to you. Where can we find you and your books? Any words for your readers?

A: I’m getting to be everywhere!  My website is the main hub to find my work: www.jameslongmore.com , I have an author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/James-H.-Longmore/e/B01H0Q04AC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 , and can be found at www.jadedbookspublishing.com (the official home of ‘The Erotic Odyssey of Colton Forshay’. 
Words for my readers? My warmest and most sincere thanks for spending your hard-earned and time on my work, I truly hope you enjoy reading it, and I hope we are embarking on a long and satisfying relationship together. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Bazaar Is Open

  Stephen King The Bazaar of Bad Dreams 5/5 stars


                                                                 


       I’ve had Bazaar of Bad Dreams since November of last year but I avoided it because there were always other books that I needed to review or there was a story that I needed to write. If you’ve read my reviews before you know that I have a love hate relationship with the later releases that King has written. On my shelf are UK editions of Misery, The Dark Half, The Tommy Knockers, and Four Past Midnight as well shit I have yet to read. Lisey’s Story, Cell, The Dome, and more. King was a huge influence on my writing and it pains me to say that I’m more of a casual fan now and not the constant reader I used to be.

     Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the latest in King’s collection of short fiction. We know how this works. Among the gems are a lot of filler. It’s something we’ve come to expect. I’ve read them all with the exception of Everything’s Eventual and the novella collection Full Dark No Stars. Dreams sat on my tablet for months and then I thought what the hell why not read it? This will at least tide me over until I work up the courage to read End of Watch (which I’m also avoiding). I set my expectations low knowing that there wouldn’t be any classic horror stories, and would no doubt be filled with the usual shit that King’s been writing. It’s a short story collection so I can skip what I don’t like. That's how it usually works. 

     Something happened as I was reading. I read Mile 81 and was totally absorbed in the story. Car comes out of nowhere and kills people. Sounds almost like Christine and Stephen King knows this. He even references this very fact in the story. This was a creepy little tale that had all the bench marks of a King classic. Next story hit and once again I am blown away. I kept expecting the filler to hit yet it never did. Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a solid collection that is almost as addicting as crack cocaine. I would find myself reading one story while promising that this would be it and I would stop reading, but that was a lie. This is without a doubt my favorite short story collection that King has released. Nightmare and Dreamscapes would be a very close second.

     What makes this so good are the stories. There aren’t many that would be considered horror but it feels as if King has finally decided to write what he wants. He’s made his money so know he’s taking a few risks and they actually pay off. These are stories that are all over the place and some will actually stick with you long after you read them. Each story flows into the next and as an added bonus King gives us a bit of background on each story. As an old fan I was surprised by how good this collection was despite the lack of horror. It’s a bit dark in places but that’s okay. The common theme here is death and the fear of it. Twenty stories may seem like overkill, but I enjoyed every single one of them. I’m sure there are others that find this collection a bit dull, or too long but I enjoyed every single moment of Bazaar of Bad Dreams which hasn't happened in a really long time.  This is King at his best and while I was bummed that there wasn't a lot of horror in the Bazaar I did find a writer who is still capable of writing a decent story that doesn't bore the piss out of me. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bizarro Erotica

The Erotic Odyssey Of Colton Forshay - James A. Longmore 5/5 stars
                                                           

Just from reading the opening line of James Longmore’s new book you immediately know that you’re in trouble. It may be both the greatest, and most disturbing opening to a novel I’ve ever read. It’s almost as disturbing as Edward Lee’s House/Pig. I could hear the Weather Girl’s in my head singing; “It’s raining jizz, hallelujah, it’s raining jizz.” Once you make it past that you’re in one for one hell of a ride. This is a novel that can only be described as bizarro erotica which I didn’t even know existed until now. You won’t find too many reviews because in all honesty how the hell do you review it?

     Longmore wants your attention and if you make it through the entire novel you’ll see that this guy knows how to write a story full of bizarre sex and intriguing characters. I also would like to know where the hell the idea came from. On second thought never mind. I liked the novel and the idea that Colton has these bizarre dreams that are sexually explicit in nature. There’s a valid reason for them and that’s the heart of the novel. The sex isn’t the selling point of the book and for those that are brave enough to read it will get to see that. It’s an interesting story that uses the idea of dreams and sexual frustration to move the story along and move it does. Colton’s dream world is full of sexual depravity and fantasies that normal people just don’t have and Longmore doesn’t bat an eye when it comes to telling Colton’s story. You can almost hear him laughing which is really frightening.


     I’ve read my share of bizarro fiction and Longmore has too. You can tell that he’s influenced by the classics. This is a book that slowly unfolds and has an actual story that just happens to have weird and not so weird sexual acts. The underlying plot is what is Colton’s reality? Is it the normal life he lives with his frigid wife or is it the world in which he lost his wife and has to pay for goods with sexual acts? The art of dreams is an interesting concept and one that allows Longmore to stretch his legs a bit. Is Longmore’s novel offensive and disturbing? It can be for those who are easily offended. What then would be the target audience? Anyone with an open mind. If you have an open mind you’ll enjoy The Sexual Odyssey of Colton Forshay but don’t for those that are easily offended you should skip this and read something from the popular fiction section. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Kasey Hill Interview



    Kasey Hill was kind enough to take some time out from her crazy schedule to answer some of my questions. Along with writing she's also involved with Fat Lip Press. Her novel The Wastelands Of Oz is available now 

                                           



Your new novel Wastelands of Oz is a new take on the mythos of The Wizard Of Oz. How hard was it to write? 

A: It wasn’t hard at all. Once I came up with the concept, it just flowed from my fingers.

Where did the idea come from?

A: My daughter sat and watched the Wizard of Oz for a week straight all day every day. I decided it was time for a new take on the old Oz

When is the 2nd novel coming out and what can we expect?

A: The second novel I plan to release next year. This one goes back to the beginning and gives a new explanation as to why the Wicked Witch became wicked. It will be followed by the Red Sorceress, a follow up to Wastelands and Maryjane, and then Emma (one of the main characters from Wastelands) with a surprise twist on her fate. 

Any other projects coming out?

A: I have a god/goddess angel/demon book coming out the 29th, a vampire book series I am finishing up called the House Sarkoczy series, a couple of stand alones, and a psychological thriller series called in the Garden of War. 

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

A: I have always loved writing for fun. It wasn’t until Wastelands hit me to write that I became truly dedicated to writing and wished to be a writer. 

Do you have any weird writing quirks?

A: Yes. I do not use outlines at all. Not for character development, not to plot, or anything. If I plot it takes too long to write.

Who are some of your influences?

A; I have many. Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, Clive Barker, Baum of course, and many many others. I have always been an avid reader since I was 5 years old. I was reading at high school level in 2nd grade. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Just keep writing. Don’t stop. Don’t look back over your work to edit this or add that. Get that first draft done and then worry about everything else. It will slow you down.  It will make your work become stagnated. 

Are there any other genres that you want to explore?

A: I already write cross-genre and write in more than one. I do fantasy, horror, romance, thrillers, etc

Aside from writing what do you like to do?

A: I am a stay at home mom. I take care of my kids. Hobbies of mine include painting, reading, singing, song writing, and many others.

How long did it take to write Wastelands?

A: It took me 2 weeks to write it and 7 months to edit/refine/revise/polish. Some of the ideas I had for the story I put off and then decided it was needed to move forth in the series by killing those necessary to make way for new characters.

What is the most difficult part of writing? 

A: Getting the idea out of my head the way I envisioned it. 

This is where I give you the floor to say a few words to your readers. Where can we find you buy your books? 

A: Wastelands of Oz by Kasey Hill
‪‬
Somewhere...down a wrong road...under the sea...across the desert...by earthquake, tornado, hurricane, and magick... exists the Land of Oz. But it's not the same land you loved and dreamed of. A new and more powerful evil than that of the wicked witches has taken over Oz by the name of the Red Sorceress. Oz is in shambles, a barren wasteland. Dorothy is sick with stomach cancer, so it is up to her daughter, Maryjane, to help bring Oz back to life. Maryjane isn’t your average teenager in Kansas. She was blessed by the Elders of Oz with magickal powers as a thanks for the help her mother offered while living there. Glinda’s son, Charlie, and Maryjane are the heirs to the throne of Oz, while the Red Sorceress intends to steal it away for her and her apprentice. Maryjane and Charlie have battled for years over their feelings for each other and have grappled with the idea of punishment, for Maryjane is a mortal from the human world, and it is forbidden. However, the only way to defeat this new monster of evil is together, and they alone share the hidden powers to bring Oz back to life and return the wastelands back into the voluptuous land it once was.
Amazon Paperback ➜  http://tinyurl.com/zvw53bv 
Fat Lip Press ➜ http://tinyurl.com/gkr5qra
Amazon US ➜  http://tinyurl.com/ho5onv7
BN Paperback ➜  http://tinyurl.com/jprvwq3
Nook ➜  http://tinyurl.com/jf2hc4u  
Kobo ➜ http://tinyurl.com/jd6k5bp 




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Parental Advisory Explicit Content!

     Gore Zone! 15 Tales Of Extreme Gore And Terror - Wesley Thomas 5/5 stars

                                                              


Preorder now on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/GORE-ZONE-Tales-Extreme-Terror-ebook/dp/B01HIUJE3S/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1468441572&sr=8-8&keywords=Wesley+Thomas



    Not too long ago I got a message from Wesley asking me if I'd be interested in reviewing his new short story collection. The moment he said that his editor and proof reader found it offensive I knew I had to read it. I had reviewed one of his books before and he was kind enough to message me and thank me. This is a writer that takes all of the feedback that he gets and uses it. Good or bad. As a writer myself I respect that and promised myself that once I had a chance  I would read another of his books and well here we are. Thanks Wesley for the arc of Gore Zone. 

      If you've read my reviews before you know how I like my splatterpunk. I love gore, and I love reading shit that most people won't. I write the same kind of stuff but what I like and look for in a collection or even a book like this is a story. Why is this happening? Gore just for gore's sake bores me. If done correctly it should be woven into the story and have a reason behind it. Anyone can bring in a bucket of guts and throw it on the floor, but you need solid characters, you need a motivation for whatever horrible thing is happening to make it more than just a gross out. If these were just stories that just featured gore for the sake of gore I wouldn't even be writing this review. We can all agree that this collection isn't for everyone and won't appease anyone looking for mainstream horror. That's okay but here's the thing. It's not really that bad. 

     I like Wesley's writing style and as I read this I could see that he is trying to find his voice as a writer. He creates unique scenes of terror that stick with you. In this collection you'll find horrors that give you a reason to stop reading just so you can catch your breath. In Wesley's world there are no happy endings and that's not a bad thing. You have a crazy cat lady that gets revenge on a cheating husband, a roller coaster than ends in a wide awake nightmare. These are stories that elevate the splatterpunk genre. These are stories that show us that sometimes we have more to fear than monsters. As a collection there are a few bumps in the road but overall everything flows really well. You can forgive him for clunkers like Horror Walk which didn't make any sense. It was a solid story right up until the end and I actually yelled: "What the fuck?! No, this is bullshit!" Aside from that outburst I was glued to the pages. 

     If you're looking for something to read that borders on the obscene and the shocking Gore zone is one helluva collection. After reading this I became a fan. Short story collections are hit or miss and this is one is a home run. Wesley Thomas is a writer to watch out for and I look forward to checking out more of his work 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Year's Best Hardcore Horror Vol 1 - Edited By Randy Chandler & Cheryl Mullenax 3 out of of stars

                                               



      When it comes to hardcore horror or splatterpunk there are two distinct types. The first goes straight for the gross out without any thought to plot, and the second layers the gore into the story sort of like a literary cake. A lot of anthologies like this either lean too far to one side and favor the gore while sacrificing the plot which tends to alienate readers. Hardcore isn't just another anthology it's boastful and wants to be different. It wants people to feel comfortable in the fact that it's the best of the best. There may be anthologies like it, but this one far different. It's a valiant effort and for the most part it just falls a little short in places. A lot of anthologies sometimes do. It's not because of the writers and more the editors trying to fit in different styles that cater to a wider audience of readers.


      To be fair there is a lot to like about The Year's Best Hardcore horror. There are some really talented writers here that really are the best. Not just the best of the year, but of all time. They bring something interesting to the table and as shocking or as different as they may be they really elevate the boasts of the anthology. Monica J O'Rourke is one such writer. that takes the feeling of loss, and helplessness and puts one hell of a spin on it. It's a shocking story not because of the gore but the twist at the end. This is what I look for in my splatterpunk. I want the gore, I want the violence, but I also want a great story and Exposed truly delivers. You also have guys like Robert Essig And Jack Bantry, Scott Emerson, Jeff Strand, David James Keaton, and Lilith Morgan that truly keep this anthology from falling apart. It's not that any of the stories were bad, they just weren't my style.


      If you're a fan of horror and looking for something extreme this is a decent collection to check out. There are quite a few gems here that make it a good solid read and shows that splatterpunk is still going strong. It makes a bold claim but only sort of delivers. It happens in books like these. When Volume 2 rolls out I'll definitely check it out because it's great exposure for writers waiting to be discovered and for those that are just on the brink of breaking out. The Year's Best Hardcore Horror comes close being perfect but it just falls a little flat in places.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

You Wanted The Best And You Got The Best, The Hottest Band In The World, KISS



Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) - Ken Sharp, Gene Simmons, And Paul Stanley 5/5 stars


                                         



     As a fan of Kiss I thought I knew everything there was to know about the band. I read all of the bios that the original four members released so when I heard about Nothin' To Lose I wasn't all that excited because I was sure that there would be nothing new to add. We've already got all of the stories from four different sources. Why do we need another book? What's left to tell that Paul and Gene haven't already told us?


     That's the draw for Nothin' to Lose. It takes you to be beginnings of the band and their struggle to succeed. When Kiss started they were innovative, yet no one actually saw it that way. Critics hated them, the press ignored them, and everyone thought that Kiss was a too gimmicky. No one expected them to be successful unless you saw them live then you knew that these four masked musicians were changing the way that concerts were done. No one was doing what Kiss doing. No band wanted to even tour with them. The problem was that it wasn't exactly catching on as quickly as they had hoped. The first three albums tanked and then they released the album that changed everything.


     The book is interesting due to the input not just from the band but from other artists and people that shared a stage with Kiss. The stories are all the same. Kiss was a beast, but they could barely play their instruments and they wore makeup. No one took them seriously. The book only covers the first three years of the band. I was surprised that there was a lot I didn't know about the band. I had no idea that their record label was on the verge of collapse and the band didn't make a dime until Alive took everyone by surprise and launched Kiss into the stratosphere. It's a story of survival and determination. If Kiss were a band just starting today there's no way they would have survived. The label wouldn't have supported them after three failed albums.



     While the individual bios written by the band on their own,are good Nothin' To Lose is the Bible of early Kisstory. You get to see a band slowly evolve and become successful because they and their record label and management believed in them. That's the message that shines through. This is the great American success story and not only did Kiss become the hottest band in the world, they also were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The band that could barely play their instruments knew that they were onto something. Reading this gives you an up close view of a bands struggle to make it despite everyone telling them it wouldn't happen. A great glimpse at the making of a successful band and how it almost didn't happen.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

We're Off To See The Red Sorceress

   The Wastelands Of Oz (Return To Oz Book 1) - Kasey Hill 5/5 Stars


   

      This isn't the Oz you grew up with, This one is darker, and far bleaker than than the Oz you remember. The interesting aspect of Wasteland is that Kasey clearly has a respect for what Baum has created while taking it into a new direction. There are countless other Oz related books and each has something to offer while trying something unique. Hill has tapped into the magical side of things and for the most part it works. She has a knack for creating memorable characters, but as a guy there were a few scenes that just didn't work for me but the thing is that I don't think Wastelands was written for a male audience. Some of the interactions between Mary Jane and Charlie drove me nuts.  These are well thought out characters but they react to each other sometimes just seemed cheesy and took away from the power of the story.

     Overall, Kasey does a great job of crafting an interesting story with a villain that has ties to not only Dorothy but Oz as well. She has clearly done her homework and brought these characters to life and have given them an update. We know these characters, and to see them older seems a bit weird at first but it's all a part of Kasey's vision, Wastelands is a decent start to the series and it makes you wonder what she has up her sleeve for the next book in the series. If you like dark fantasy or even a fan of Oz this is a worthy addition to your collection, Sure some of the interactions between Mary Jane and Charlie don't seem realistic but maybe it's because I'm a guy and I cringe at the mere hint of romance in the books I read. As a new entry into the Oz mythos it certainly grabs your attention and keeps things moving at a steady clip.

      Wastelands Of Oz is one of those books you pick up and find that you can't put it down. Kasey is a talented writer that knows how to craft a solid story. This is a darker version of the tale we grew up with and it may in fact alienate a few who find that the story is too dark, or maybe too grown up. It's not a novel for young adults, but for the adults who are fans of the other Oz offshoots. I may be a guy, but I still enjoyed the majority of Wastelands. I gave it five stars despite some of the scenes that made me groan out loud. As a whole it's a damn good book that shows you can breath new life into characters that some people may deem sacred and create something new from the pieces that another author already created.