Book review: Jedi Summer: with The Magnetic Kid – John Boden

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It seems as if the 1980s are everybody’s favorite thing again. The recent success of television show ‘Stranger Things’ has rekindled a love for a time that I personally look back on with a great fondness. The 80s to me were all about trips to the video store with friends, trying to push the clerk into letting us rent out the latest video nasty, despite us being well under age. I loved the music of the 80s too; bands like Duran Duran, U2, R.E.M, The Police and artists like Prince were all parts of my musical diet growing up. Though it wasn’t until the late 80s that I discovered Guns N Roses where my love of heavier music began and the rest as they say is history…

John Boden’s novella ‘Jedi Summer: with The Magnetic Kid’ has feet firmly rooted during this time (1983 to be exact). It is only a novella but is testament to the quality of John’s writing that he is able to write a coming-of-age tale in less than 100 pages and still manage to give you the feels.

It is a heartfelt and honest story, beautifully written with a passion and perhaps a longing for things to return to how they once were. The 80s seem so innocent now with the way things are in the world today and ‘Jedi Summer…’ provides the perfect escape. The book is written in an almost episodic kind of way, but still has a wonderful flow to it as we follow two young brothers lives in the build up to watching ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ at the theater.

Loaded with references to this bygone era, ‘Jedi Summer…’ isn’t just a love letter to another time. It is an engaging story about two brothers growing up, feeling their way into a new and unusual world. This semi-autobiographical tale will have the hairs on your arms standing on end and will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside come the books end.

‘Jedi Summer…’ isn’t all niceties. There is a definite undercurrent of darkness (if anybody is familiar with John’s other works then they will be all too familiar with this). What parts of this book are fact and what parts are fiction? this is something you will have to decide for yourself, but it all adds to the charm of the narrative.

In a world where turning on the television to watch the news can result in you spending the next few hours questioning where we went wrong as society, ‘Jedi Summer…’ harks back to a time when life was certainly a little less complicated, perhaps even a little more fun and living had a great soundtrack. Even if you weren’t a child of the 80s, I am sure there will be something here for you, be it the innocence of youth, the family struggles you can relate to, the excitement about a trip to the movies or just being able to connect with the bond shared between two siblings. John Boden skilfully manages to tell us a story in less than 100 pages what some authors couldn’t do in 400+ pages. Boden isn’t just a writer, he is a storyteller and this is a wonderful book.

You can pick up a copy of this book from here.

Book review: All-Night Terror – Adam Cesare & Matt Serafini

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‘All-Night Terror’ was originally published back in 2013. Recently, those fine chaps at Sinister Grin Press have re-released it with some kick-ass new cover art AND four NEW stories!

The concept of ‘All-Night Terror’ is very cool. It is a series of short stories that pay homage to the video nasties from the 1980s. Part ‘Tales from the Crypt’ and part ‘Twilight Zone’ this book is everything the b-movie horror fan is looking for. There are tales about cryptids, action figures that come to life and much, much more. All of the stories are tied together by a common thread. A series of intermissions serve as another story in which a deranged employee has taken over his local television station creating havoc and panic.

Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini wear their hearts on their sleeves. You can tell that these guys have a real connection to the horror genre and this particular time. There isn’t in-depth character development, that isn’t why you read books like this. You read books like this because you have fond memories of a time when gore ruled the screens, when Freddy Kruger was the most frightening thing ever and you stayed up way past your bedtime to watch ‘Tales from the Crypt’. It’s a book written with heart and passion, features some ripper stories and is a great way to kill a couple of hours or dive in and out of during coffee breaks.

Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #AllNightTerror #storiesofterror
#HookofaBook #SinisterGrin

  • File Size:392 KB
  • Print Length:144 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
  • Publisher:Sinister Grin Press (July 15, 2016)
  • Publication Date:July 15, 2016

 

All-Night Terror, Synopsis

You’re invited to experience ALL NIGHT TERROR. Don’t look for help, your weaker friends will be too scared to attend, but you’re in for the nightmare of your life.

Sit down in front of the TV and prepare for a late-night odyssey of wicked shocks as a horror movie marathon becomes a bloodbath before your very eyes. It starts when a disgruntled cable host seizes control of a television station, determined to give his viewers an evening they won’t soon forget. One where monsters of all shapes and sizes rise up against mankind. One where deranged killers prowl the night for a variety of victims. And one where cinema itself haunts its creators and creations.

Join modern horror stars Adam Cesare (Tribesmen, Zero Lives Remaining) and Matt Serafini (Feral, Island Red) as they bring you ten tales of fear that will have you shivering between the pages.

All-NIGHT TERROR—good to the last slash.

 

Author Biographies

 

Adam Cesare’s list of books include Zero Lives Remaining, The First One You Expect, Video Night, The Summer Job, Mercy House and Tribesmen. He writes a monthly column exploring horror fiction and film for Cemetery Dance Online. He lives in Philadelphia and can be found at AdamCesare.com, where he’s giving away a free e-book if you sign up for his mailing list.

Adam Cesare

Matt Serafini is the author of  Island Red, Devil’s Row, Under the Blade and Feral. He’s a columnist for Dread Central, and has formerly contributed to Bloody-Disgusting, Fangoria and Shock Till You Drop. He lives in Central Massachusetts with his wife and son where he spends way too much time tracking down obscure slasher movies. Find him at mattserafini.com

Matt Serafini

Find more information on Sinister Grin Press at www.sinistergrinpress.com. We have “horror that’ll carve a smile on your face.”

Purchase Links

Kindle US

Universal Amazon

Sinister Grin Press

Also available in paperback!

Media? Wish to Feature?

 If you are a member of the media or a blogger that wishes to review All-Night Terror or to feature Matt or Adam, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicity and marketing, Sinister Grin Press, at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.

All-Night Terror tour graphic v3

 

Book review: Greener Pastures – Michael Wehunt

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There has been quite the buzz surrounding Michael Wehunt’s debut collection of dark, weird fiction. Blurbs from some of the best in the genre have been waxing lyrical about his literary prose, unnerving themes and originality. But, what did I think?

‘Greener Pastures’ is one of the best collections of dark fiction I have read in the last few years. From the very first page, Wehunt draws you in and takes you on a lyrical journey through the darkest parts of your imagination. What really astounded me about this collection was the sheer originality of the pieces. It is amazing to think that this is a debut collection. Wehunt is in total command, painting a bleak picture where strange things lurk in the spaces between the darkness.

Several stories stood out for me, but the jewel in the crown was the title story ‘Greener Pastures’. This was actually one of the shorter stories but was incredible. A diner frequented by truck drivers is the setting. Two men discuss life on the road, questioning what lies between the nothingness of each town they pass through. One-by-one other drivers leave the diner attempting to locate the sounds coming out of the darkness until only one remains.  I absolutely loved this story. The life of a long-distance driver must be a lonely one and this is captured perfectly in this short, dark tale.

‘Onanon’ and ‘October film Haunt’ were also highlights, though I got something from every story inside this outstanding collection. Another highlight was ‘Deducted From Your Share in Paradise’ in which a group of women fall from the sky, baffling the locals living in a trailer park…are they fallen angels? This was beautifully written and the story looks at how people abuse power. The book finishes on an emotional note with ‘Bookends’ – the story of a father coming to terms with the loss of his wife, during childbirth. This one really pulls at the heartstrings and is a great way to sign off on this superb collection.

There is a write up about each story at the books end. I always enjoy it when writers do this as I am fascinated as to where their ideas come from and what message they were trying to get across.

If you consider yourself a fan of dark fiction, weird horror, then ‘Greener Pastures’ is most definitely worthy of your time. A truly immense and unsettling debut.

Buy a copy of this book from here.

Book review: Bound – Alan Baxter

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A few years ago I went through a stage of reading nothing but fantasy fiction. I got a little tired of it and decided it was time for a break. Only recently I have started reading some again. When I saw Alan Baxter’s ‘Bound’ and heard that it was like Jack Reacher with magic, I was all in. ‘Bound’ has recently been re-released with some great new artwork. I have come across Baxter’s work in various anthologies and have enjoyed his stories. ‘Bound’ is the first book in a trilogy that features the escapades of martial artist/cage fighter Alex Caine – a man with an unusual ability to see his opponents moves shortly before they execute (giving him quite the advantage when fighting!).

‘Bound’ is a great read. Baxter (a Kung Fu teacher) clearly knows about fighting and the scenes where Caine is dishing out some punishment are handled well. The book has many fantastical elements and is quite dark but it doesn’t fall into the cliche category. The pacing of the book is one of its real strengths with barely a breath being drawn between the next exciting sequence. The dialogue (so often a downfall with many writers) is crisp and authentic, keeping you immersed inside the story.

Caine himself is an engaging character, I wasn’t sure about him early on in the book, particularly at the start when he comes across as kind of arrogant and narky, but hey, good guys can’t be nice all of the time, right? As the story progresses he does become more personal and I soon found myself warming to him and cheering him on as he battles evil.

Other characters including the excellent Silhouette and Mr Hood are also given great depth and there are some great ideas at play. I enjoyed Caine’s transformation throughout the book. At the start he is a fighter with a strange gift but he becomes something much different by the stories end.

‘Bound’ is a great example of dark and gritty urban fantasy. It’s filled with great action, cool characters and an engaging protagonist. Unlike some trilogies ‘Bound’ gets straight into the action, not wasting time with page after page of world building and politics, something that I find the Fantasy genre guilty of quite often.

Pick up a copy of ‘Bound’ from here.

Book review: Prince of Nightmares – John McNee

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No. This book ‘Prince of Nightmares’ is not a Donald Trump biography, but is in fact a disturbing tale about a haunted hotel that steers clear of becoming ‘run of the mill’ by the way in which McNee graphically describes certain scenes/dreams/visions inside of the book.

The story follows the journey of Victor Terversham –  a self-made millionaire who, at the request of his deceased wife, stays at a haunted hotel nestled in the highlands of Scotland. The hotel is notorious for terrifying its guests with horrific visions and strange appearances. But what is the significance of the hotel? And why did Teversham’s wife book her husband into the retreat shortly before taking her own life?

I’ll admit that haunted house stories don’t often float my boat, however, I’d heard good things about this book and I’m glad that I give it a go. What makes this book stand out is how McNee portrays these visions/dreams on paper…bloody, gruesome, wildly imaginative are words I’d use. McNee certainly doesn’t pull any punches and as well as the book having a suitably creepy feel to it, there is definitely enough here to please Splatterpunk and extreme horror fans. These gore-filled, twisted scenes appear often but McNee does well in keeping them creative and interesting.

The writing is good, easy to follow and the pacing is great. Teversham isn’t the most likable of characters, but I didn’t dislike him either (a grey sort of chap, I’d say). The pieces of the puzzle that is the hotel begin to fall into place during the second half of the book. There are often scenes where the lines between fiction and reality become blurred for our protagonist, keeping the reader on their toes and fascinated as to how  events will unfold.

‘Prince of Nightmares’ has a universal appeal to all fans of horror fiction, not just those looking for a spooky read. Definitely not for the faint of heart and if you go into this expecting a PG13 rating then you will be more than a little surprised.

The haunted house tale has been done many times (and will no doubt continue to). But with ‘Prince of Nightmares’, John McNee has written a gripping and gruesome tale that will surprise and delight readers with its graphic imagery and engaging story line.

Pick up a copy of this book from here.

Book Review: The Sludge – David Bernstein

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A leaking barrel of toxic waste deep within a forest causes carnage in this pulpy, fun read from David Bernstein. Bernstein has a knack of writing these sort of b-movie style books with the greatest of ease. They take me back to the days of my visits to the Video store, the horror section filled with all manner of cheesy, gory movies that were low on quality acting and dialogue but high on entertainment and blood.

The cover art pretty much tells you exactly what you are getting with this story. It made me think of a cross between ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Swamp Thing’. David Bernstein writes horror that is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, the sort of book you can quickly become lost inside, finish within a couple of hours with a huge smile upon your face.

‘The Sludge’ isn’t the sort of book you read for in-depth character development. The two foolhardy thieves that encounter the toxic material are constantly bickering with each other. They’re a typical redneck pairing and provide some genuine moments of comedy. The brothers then encounter a group of hikers and are plunged into a fight for survival as the monster begins to mutate and wreak havoc.

I always know that I will enjoy anything by David Bernstein. He writes the kind of escapist, b-movie books that I love to read. If you’re searching for a fun horror book to waste away a couple of hours then you could do a hell of a lot worse than ‘The Sludge’. Great stuff.

Pick up a copy of ‘The Sludge’ from here.

Book review: Out of Range – Glenn Rolfe

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Glenn Rolfe: It feels as if Glenn has been around for a long time, but in fact he is still in the early stages of his career as a writer. I have been impressed with his output so far. His early novellas showed a young writer trying to find his voice, but were impressively well-written, engaging and fun. His debut novel ‘Blood and Rain’ saw Rolfe tackle one of horror fictions most enduring characters; the Werewolf. For a debut,  ‘Blood and Rain’ showed the genre that Rolfe was a writer to watch.

‘Out of Range’ is a short collection (3 stories) of science-fiction-tinged horror that once again showcases Rolfes talent and perhaps even more in interestingly, it shows that Rolfe has ambitions to expand his work to incorporate other genres of fiction.

After a brief (though perhaps slightly unnecessary) blurb from Hunter Shea we get stuck into ‘ Not of this World’ The longest of the three stories and my favourite due to it reminding me of Carpenter’s classic body horror movie ‘ The Thing’. This one has enough blood and guts to keep hardened horror fans thoroughly entertained and is a great way to kick things off. The second tale, and also the shortest was ‘ The Astronauts’ – this one didn’t really do a great deal for me. It felt a little like an early draft of a novella, and had a rushed feel to it. Before I knew it, it was over and yeah, it didn’t really float my boat. The final story was ‘Out of Range’ and was another good one. I recently read a anthology where the theme was horror transmissions and I felt that this short tale wouldn’t be out of place inside of it. A great way to finish.

‘Out of Range’ is a steal for 99c. It shows that Glenn Rolfe isn’t afraid to spread his wings with his writing, and that he is comfortable and capable of entertaining in other genres as well. Would I recommend this to horror fans looking to sample some of Glenn’s work? Yes and no. ‘Blood and Rain’ is still my favourite Rolfe read, although it’s a novel, it showcases his love of the genre and it is a great werewolf tale. His sci-fi novella ‘Boom Town’ is another good one and is one that I’d recommend to newer fans who like the sci-fi angle. For those looking to complete their Rolfe collection then this is a solid addition to the growing Glenn Rolfe catalogue.

Pick up a copy of ‘Out of Range’ from here.