Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Borderlands, Volume One : The Anthology of Weird Fiction Edited by Thomas F Monteleone

It’s hard to believe, but this anthology first appeared 28 years ago. In re-reading the stories in this gathering of the weirdest tales, I am also reminded of how strikingly fresh and original the material remains.

As its title implies, Borderlands contains fiction that resides out there on the edge, on the perimeter of what's being done in the field of horror, dark fantasy, and suspense literature. When I solicited material for what I hope will be the first of many volumes, I made it clear I didn't want stories that employed any of the traditional symbols and images of the genre. I wanted writers to expand the envelope, to look beyond the usual metaphors, and bring me something new.

Some fresh meat, so to speak.

So, dig in!

Stories by

David B. Silva * Nancy Holder * John DeChancie * Francis J. Matozzo * Bentley Little * Darrel Schweitzer * Michael Green * Poppy Z. Brite * Jeffrey Osier *
John Shirley * Lee Moler * Nina Kriki Hoffman * T. E. D. Klein *
Chet Williamson * Ed Gorman * Jack Hunter Daves, Jr. * Thomas Tessier * Les Daniels * David B. Silva * Karl Edward Wagner * Elizabeth Massie * Charles L. Grant * G. Wayne Miller * Joe R. Lansdale

Every reader has their favorite authors. When I saw that this anthology contained stories by Bentley Little and Poppy Brite I knew I had to read it, but the best part of such a collection is the ability to read not only your favorites but to discover works by authors you may not have otherwise read.
I enjoyed most of the stories but the ones that stood out as favorites for me were-
The Grass of Remembrance" by John DeChancie about a man who sends away for a very unique grass seed after his failed attempts to keep his lawn alive. "The Pounding Room" by Bentley Little in which starting a great new job isn't all its cracked up to be, "The Raw and the Cooked" by Michael Green was a dark and satirical look at how the makers of your happy meal stay so happy. "The Man in the Long Black Sedan" by Ed Gorman involves a family man who takes a day off work to protect his family.
I think all horror lovers will find something to enjoy in this volume. Borderlands is a symphony of dark and disturbing fiction and I hope there will be future installments.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

This was a riveting, well researched, fact based though slightly embellished account of the life of Josephine Baker from her childhood and beyond her rise to fame, becoming the highest paid black performer in the world. Since Josephine is no longer with us to be able to share her intimate thoughts, there was a good mix of story telling and facts. It held me captivated from start to finish as Josephine grew from a poverty stricken neglected child to a strong willed woman who stood along side MLK to fight for civil rights. 

I received an advance copy for review.

Available for pre-order

About the author
Sherry Jones is an American journalist and internationally best selling author of the controversial "The Jewel of Medina" and other historical fiction novels about women's power. She is also a speaker on issues including women's rights, free speech, and Islamophobia.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Violent Hearts: A Haunted Journey by Keith Deininger

  Years ago, in college, Owen, a man on the brink of suicide after losing his wife and baby daughter in a brutal drunk-driving accident, and Chloe, a dispassionate academic who believes in scientific research as a means to make the world a better place, took part in a ritualistic act in the woods. After, neither of them can remember exactly what happened that night, but darkness has since haunted them both.

Now, as adults living separate lives, the once minor manifestations from that night have grown into threats not only malignant and dangerous to them, but to all of humanity.

A surreal tale of horror and heartbreak, rife with dark oddities, wonderfully realized characters, and terrifying nightmares. Here the blind Guitar Man gives insane advice on the brink between reality and nightmare; eerie clones known as umbriates sneak into the world with murderous intent; and the once-imaginary being called Ozy is gathering strength and followers in his effort to rip through the very fabric of reality with the intent of dominance and darkness. And only Owen and Chloe can stop him.
When I first started reading Violent Hearts, I thought it might end up in my pile of unfinished books. At 10% through the book I still didn't really have a clue what was going on, and the use of words like "umbriates" and smudgemutters" which even now my auto correct wants to change.. did not help me understand what was happening. I can't really say what made me stick with it, when I would normally move on to the next book on my list. Something about it managed to grab my attention I suppose, but it was not until 25% through the book that I began to understand that Owen and Chloe had opened up a doorway to a dark and deadly shadow world that was now hunting them down in this realm. It was more of a fantasy than a horror, which is not really my thing, but I did enjoy the story once it got going. It was worth sticking with to the end and I'm glad I didn't give up on it.
I received a complimentary copy for review.
About the author
Keith Deininger is an award-winning dark fiction author. His titles include WITHIN, MARROW'S PIT and A GAME FOR GODS. He is best known for blending elements of fantasy with horror in his surreal, literary style. He grew up in the American Southwest and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and daughter.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Owl Manor: The Dawning by Zita Harrison


I confess that the description put me off a little. I am not a fan of romance novels but I do love a good historical fiction.
Eva is a young woman with a strong will and bright mind who feels there must be something more to life than the drudgery of settling into marriage and bearing children that she doesn't really want, with a man who turns out to be less than what she had hoped for. Not having many opportunities in the 1850s she is swept by circumstance to live in squalor and poverty while her husband pursues his dream of striking gold.
There's a serial killer on the loose, whose hatred of his mother drives him to murder prostitutes, believing the world is a better place without these unclean women. Money and privilege conceal his heinous acts and seem to keep him above suspicion from everyone...except the owls. When he crosses paths with Eva, her strong will may be her salvation or her demise.
4 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze are the hottest young music composers in Hollywood. Fresh off an Oscar nomination, they've just been chosen to score a big-budget horror movie by Lee Stanley, the most demanding director in film. But Ben, the creative half of the duo, hasn't written a note since his wife divorced him and got custody of their three-year-old son.
Chris Blackwood is the gambling-addicted heir to the Blackwood fortune, which includes the Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California. The island and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925, but Chris needs money, and to get it he allows Ben, Eddie, Claire Harden (an aspiring composer), and Eva Rosales (Lee Stanley's gorgeous assistant) to stay a month in Castle Blackwood.
Eddie is certain an eerie, isolated setting is just what Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film. But what they find is more horrific than any movie.

The premise sounded simple enough as I settled in to read what I expected to be a spooky but not unusual tale of a haunted castle. I should have known after my last foray into horror with Jonathan Janz (The Siren and The Specter) that this is not an author who does "simple." While this book is heavy with supernatural horror, it also showcases the fact that sometimes the worst monsters are of the human variety. It frazzled my nerves and had me terrified over whether  or not the characters I cared about would survive, while simultaneously wishing a horrific death to those who deserved one.
5 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy for review.

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About the author
Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal. His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, his novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter (http://jonathanjanz.us12.list-manage....), and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.