Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dead of Winter

A.M. Rycroft opens the anthology with a forward regarding anthologies. Why do some places think anthologies need certain themes to drive them?

My theory is some publishers might want to force writers to consider topics or come up with ideas they maybe didn't consider before OR it lets a writer know their limits, and subsequently the reader's limits, regarding suspension of disbelief. Mine is zombified kumquats. The idea of sentient fruit that can die and come back to life to attack others is so out there.....oops, got off topic....

The idea of this anthology centered around the notion of dark fiction. Not necessarily the stuff that churns your stomach or causes sanity to be questioned, but an exploration on the items that go bump in the night. Or that mistake you made that will haunt you or experiences that scar us for the remainder of our days.

THE DARKNESS HAS TEETH- Our dark fiction journey begins with Pamela Jeffs, who gives us a tale of time travel. This isn't the happiness you found in Back to the Future, kids. This is living with the horror of what your actions cause. Demons are powerful and painful things!

THE HUNTRESS OF BUR- Justin Chasteen tells of a robbery gone wrong. There are just some people you don't mess with. Too bad Gligk and his companions learn this lesson in the most painful way possible.

FRY MACHETE'S MONSTERS, MUNCHIES AND MAYHEM- Stuart Conover introduces us to Fry Machete, a Nom Network host. Fry has become completely weary with his job and wants out. Too bad what he's become leads him to commit actions that will render that decision impossible.

ONLY IN DEATH- Zoey Xolton's Amara is a woman who knows she's trapped in a gilded cage. She knows she has to escape, not only for her safety and sanity, but her child's. Amara's plan to escape to the light fails, but she manages to find her freedom and safety in the dark.

THESE CLAWS DIG SHALLOW GRAVES- Kevin Holton's protagonist personifies what drives him to his misdeeds as a spectral female form. He must kill to keep her at bay, so he does not blame her, same as he does not blame himself. She is the only light he needs after all.

SLIPPED STITCH- KT Wagner shows a world like our own, only with a little more violence and this leads to questions. What happens when what you valued before slips and another feeling slips in? Do they truly deserve better or do you need to find a new way to deal with your knowledge?

SPOTLIGHT- David J. Gibbs gives another take on Thanksgiving traditions. Sure, you gather with your family in order to celebrate all the traditions that have been handed own over the years, but do you stop to consider any of the old traditions? The ones used to deal with what came with the settlers. Times change, but the old ones don't acknowledge that.

COYOTEMAN- Robert Perret's narrative reminds us it's a bad idea to pick up strung out hitchhikers. And if you have to pick them up, don't take them somewhere where there are drugs. And if you have to do that, beware of murder and the woods. On second thought- let the hunt begin!

THE KILLERS- Meredith Schindehette's story has a ditch. Broken people who can't be saved go in the ditch. Jamie finds someone in the ditch who isn't broken. They didn't stay dead, so how can they be broken?

Annabel Lee- Erin Kahn wraps things up with a ghostly tale of yore. Sadly wrapping, sadly tapping, run along the lane to your door! Sadly, Annabel Lee is no more.

What great fun we had today! This is why anthologies are great things to read. It doesn't matter if you've heard of the writers or there's a central theme. It doesn't even matter if you liked everything written or found every story amazing because all that stuff is subjective.

The key thing is the stories you read and the author's words sparked some sort of reaction and get your imagination running (even if the theme is sentient zombified fruit).

The Trumpening: Twilight of the Golden Menace

The Trumpening: Twilight of the Golden Menace is brought to you by the mind of Tim W. Long. Before you go all crazy happy thinking he made Trump into one of the undead, well, that didn't happen.

Although knowing our luck, Trump in zombie form would.....ew....

The Trumpening is a tongue in cheek look at what over inflated egos would turn the country into if given half a chance. The sad thing is, it's totally believable. Yep, a glimpse into the Trumpocalypse.

Meet Andrew. At first, he's a happy little Trump drone, but then reality happens.

Meet Carlos Danger. That's not his real name, but why ruin the surprise?

Meet Nate and Leona. Proof you can't suppress brilliant minds.

Meet Alec. It's exactly what you think it is and it's awesome.

Meet the team that will find a way to end the Trump shenanigans (trumpnanigans?) and get everything back on track.

Find yourself on a wacky adventure full of twists, turns and pornstaches! It's a great read. It's an amazing read. It will make reading great again, you'll see.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Hunger

The Hunger, a short story written by Guy Riessen, follows Sir James on his trek to "acquire" something for his employer.

When we meet Sir James, it's on a train. We learn he likes killing and equates its ease to eating crumpets with marmalade. (side note: if you don't know what a crumpet is, google it)

The first distraction on Sir James's trek for his acquisition comes in the form of Michael O'Shane. Michael claims to specialize in lead poisoning and shows Sir James he's a wanted man. Michael proves to be a diversion, a rival agency wanting to slow Sir James down, but Sir James quickly settles it and continues with his journey.

Upon his arrival, we learn that Sir James has enlisted the help of a couple locals to help him track and trap a Wendingo (google it, you won't be sorry).

And this is pretty much where it all goes sideways.

Can't go any further without spoilers, so let's just stop here and call it a day.

Overall the story is a bite sized bit of fun that can be used to ignore people during your morning commute. Unless your commute involves driving. Don't e-read and drive, folks.

Toodles!


Friday, November 11, 2016

Death Gets A Book

Frank Elder is back with a book about Death.

I'm not kidding, it's a book about Death. There's a whole society of the little buggers (both literally and figuratively) running around offing people when it's been deemed their time.

How does one join such an organization? Well in the case of Vincent, it all started with a trip to Mexico and a night out to see something most people only learned about because of Clerks II. Since it's not a tourist spot, one of the locals sees fit to pull a prank and the next thing you know, a shallow grave is involved.

Vincent meets Death after he admits he's late (and tarted up to look like a Dia de los Muertos candy skull), but they weren't supposed to meet in that fashion. They were supposed to meet, a soul exchange would occur and zippidy do da. Instead, Vincent is now another death meaning Tart Death screwed up.

Moving along, Vincent Death is put through the steps, gets his Death stuff and gets reassigned to a post back home, which was expected. Soul collection can go faster if you know your way around an area (and don't have to rely on something like Apple Maps taking you off an overpass). Vincent Death is given his first assignment and off he goes.....

....to have the soul stolen by his harpy of a dead wife, who has become something Death hates- a banshee. They're both in the soul collection business, but realistically, most people would want a scythe then to be screeched to death.

Vincent Death's screw up is recognized by another Death and they go against code to get the soul back from the banshee. Just when they think they've got it, more banshees show up and we find out that they're organizing. They're tired of competing against Death Co and want to get rid of the competition.

Skip skip skip TINY TINY DEATH skip skip skip MONSTER TRUCK RALLY skip skip skip

Now here's where it gets fun- Vincent Death promised the daughter of the soul he screwed up collecting that he would make things right. He has to admit failure, she volunteers to get dead and in another screw up, she's not Death, but another banshee. As if that's not bad enough, the bean counters have figured out something isn't right and now they have to punish Death.

Skip skip skip BANSHEE DEATH skip skip skip HAPPY ENDING skip skip skip BONUS MATERIAL skip skip skip THEY'RE REAL!

Long story short (too late!), Death Gets A Book is another fun read from the mind of Frank Elder. There really is a bonus short story included and you'll have to read both in order to make sure you're getting all references mentioned above. It's cheeky good fun! Just ask Death

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Halloweeners

Author John Hennessy starts off his Halloween tale by explaining that Halloween celebrations in England are different than Halloween celebrations in America.

Makes sense. Even in America, Halloween is celebrated in different ways.

Then the author introduces us to The Halloweeners- Kirsty, Nula, Toby and the new guy, Craig.

The whole story centers around getting ready for trick or treating and following their yearly theme. Naturally, there's a route that has to be followed and the dare to go to the spooky house with the spooky person.

As the day draws closer, it seems the once close group is starting to fall apart. There are disagreements about the route, what's real, personalities and the usual teenage shenanigans.

But everything isn't quite what it seems.

So I'll ask you- Trick or Treat?

Next year, it's your turn.

Return of the Pumpkins

When we met the pumpkins in 2015, it was pretty straightforward- they were magically murderlicious!

When Lacey Lane announced the pumpkins would be coming back, I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one excited and followed updates on Twitter about the release, as well as offering some pretty odd fan theories about what they might be doing.

So what have the pumpkins been up to? What revenge are they seeking?

Well that's the fun part in all of this. It turns out the pumpkins left a lasting impression on the child in the first book- Peter.

Peter is no longer a child, but sadly has been spending this part of his life in a mental ward haunted by the events of that night. And his remaining family hasn't visited him. And he's haunted by the events of the night.

And he relies on the blue pill. No, not that one. What do you think you're reading?!

Peter meets someone in the current hospital who helps him want to start living again and forget the nightmare from all those years ago.

But during a little field trip, something happens and you're left wondering if that horrible night all those years ago really was those magically murderlicious pumpkins.........

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Barry the Basement Bear

Over the past couple years, I've had a lot of fun reading and giving randomness to Stuart Conover's work. I was really excited to see that another short story of Stuart's (say that three times fast! go ahead, i'll wait) had been released. Although this time, it's shockingly not in print, it's in podcast form!

Barry the Basement Bear can be found by clicking the link and is a part of The Wicked Library's podcast series. The podcast runs for 57:21 (complete with funny filler and an interview with the author), so let's settle in for a listen!

Barry is described as a light in the dark keeping the monsters at bay. The protagonist views Barry as a true friend and someone who must always be kept around, must to the chagrin of the protagonist's father. The first time Barry is left behind, something goes horribly wrong.

The protagonist tries to carry on as they always have, but their father becomes angrier with Barry's presence and decides it's time for the protagonist to grow up and be "normal." The father "deals with" Barry, leaving the protagonist to find life has become hellish without Barry's presence. The decision is made to get Barry back in order to restore life with the comfort and security the protagnoist had always known.

This decision makes the protagonist's father go apocalyptic, determining that Barry needs to go permanently and if the protagonist tries to save Barry again, there will be serious consequences. That night, even though Barry is not with them, Barry lets the protagonist know they shouldn't worry. They'll be protected. Always.