Cover art spotlight: George Cotronis

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Cover art – it can make or break a book. It can be the difference in a book selling 30 copies or 300 copies or 3000 copies!

As a reader, I have actually purchased books on the cover art alone. It is imperative that the book looks good. If your cover is half-arsed then perhaps the writing is too? that’s my take on it when I see poor book art. Now I know, generally speaking that writers don’t have endless amounts of cash, but if you believe in the quality of your work then you need a quality book cover.

Most of the stuff I read is dark. Dark fiction is my thing, and one of the very best cover artists in the genre is George Cotronis. Right now, George has a challenge going on. He is creating 30 covers in 30 days over at www.cotronis.com. As well as producing kick-ass art, George also edits, writes and is head cheese at Kracken Press..

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He has pre-made covers available for a very reasonable price over at his website along with contact details should you wish to hire him for an upcoming project. If you are looking for some original, striking art then you should definitely go check him out at www.cotronis.com I think you will find that George has covers for all budgets.

Peace.

 

 

Book review: Milk-Blood – Mark Matthews

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How about this for one of the most disturbing book covers you have seen?! And let me tell you that the content is equally as harrowing.

I love the horror genre and all of its sub-genres. Urban horror is a particular favorite of mine; it’s horror that exists in the real world, a horror that we see on a regular basis through TV, online and sometimes on the same street. ‘Milk-Blood’ is a very personal journey for Mark Matthews, as the author notes scattered throughout the book suggest, Matthews has faced many demons and fortunately for us and his family and friends he lives to tell the tale. And what a tale it is. This dark journey into drug addiction is not an easy reading experience, and when you think about the subject matter, it really shouldn’t be either.

‘Milk-Blood’ is my first read by Matthews and definitely not my last. He skilfully blends the natural with the supernatural but not simply for cheap scares. The book will make your skin crawl, have you itching and scratching at your arms for days afterwards and leave you feeling exhausted at its end. Lilly is the main character and is utterly engaging and one that you become instantly attached to, which is quite a feat when you consider the books short length. Some of the others will make you wince wince with discomfort. Matthews manages to push your emotions to their very limits in a story that features some of the most vile characters I have ever read about.

‘Milk-Blood’ isn’t a long book and I finished it in two sessions. I think the length of it is good, a much longer, drawn-out novel could’ve been too much for this reader.

Perhaps I have painted this to be a depressing and bleak read, and if you want cheering up after a long week at work then this book won’t do it. However, of you are looking for something to give you food for thought and challenge you emotionally then this will be the book for you. An excellent read.

Pick up a copy of ‘Milk-Blood’ from here.

Edit: Mark recently agreed to be a part of my new feature BTB Storytellers and I know that this is a story you won’t want to miss!

BTB Storytellers is coming soon…

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I love the 90s, and one of the reasons for this is the great music that was around.  VH1 Storytellers is a show produced in the United States by the VH1 network and features some of today’s finest musical talent in an intimate setting where the artists perform some of their songs live, but more importantly they tell the story behind the song. So far artists such as David Bowie, Billy Joel, R.E.M, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West and Jay-Z have all entertained audiences with their art and their stories. I have always been fascinated with the mechanics of songwriting and music composition. As a musician myself I am able to fully appreciate all of the elements that performers bring together to create a piece of art.

Early last week I had an idea! Recently I have interviewed some of my favorite writers and publishers and one of my favorite questions to ask is where a story comes from. So, I thought that I’d take this a step further and this brings us here to BTB Storytellers. Starting on Sunday 3rd September (Australian time) I will begin a new feature at Beavis the Bookhead; a feature that invites a whole host of writers from around the globe to share the story behind their story. I truly believe this will provide a fascinating insight into how these writers work and where they get their ideas from. I’m hoping you might discover a few new writers and so I will be including links to their various works, blogs, websites etc.

Only yesterday I put the call out for interested parties on social media. I had no idea as to the sort of response I would get. I was thinking if I could get two or three writers to participate then that would be great! however, so far the response has exceeded even my wildest expectations and I can’t wait to start sharing these stories with you.

BTB Storytellers will commence on Sunday 3rd September.

Thanks for the continued support, likes, comments, interactions and shares on Facebook and Twitter and I hope you enjoy this new feature.

Best,

Adrian.

Book review: Aimee Bancroft and The Singularity Storm – Daniel Marc Chant

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What happens when Daniel Marc Chant leaves horror behind (temporarily, of course), and ventures into the cosmic void that is science-fiction!

Well, if you like your science-fiction pulpy, filled with underwater cities and aquafolk (new word there, people!), then I am pleased to report that Mr Chant has come up trumps with this novella that gave me everything I expected and more. The cover is wonderful and Chant releases his inner Doug McClure with a tale of high adventure set in another world. This story could easily be imagined on your TV, on a lazy Saturday afternoon straight after ‘The Land Before Time’.

Aimee Bancroft is a terrific tale set in a magical underwater world. The story is immense fun. Aimee gets caught up in a freak storm and is transported to another world! I often find the science-fiction genre a little disengaging due to its over reliance on actual science. I want monsters, other worlds, space craft, gripping escapes, not the physics behind space travel! I can look at that sort of stuff on the internet so leave it out of my fiction, please!

The fact that this is a novella makes me want more. I can easily imagine a Buck Rogers style series going on with Aimee Bancroft. She is a fantastic character, brimming with confidence, quick witted and eager to explore. Aimee is undoubtedly the star of the show but there are some other great characters too. I particularly enjoyed Sergent Arkon – a bumbling fists-first type character that isn’t the brightest star in the sky!

If you are a fan of any of the above mentioned movies/shows then you need to check this out. Great pulpy space fun.

Buy this book from here.

Book review: The Cat Came Back – Matthew Cash

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My next horror read after the excellent Grey Matter Press anthology ‘Peel Back the Skin’ was always going to be a tough act to follow. ‘The Cat Came Back’ is a completely different beast to what I read previously in that it is quite humorous. It does have some gruesome scenes but ultimately it left me feeling slightly underwhelmed.

‘The Cat Came Back’ isn’t a bad story by any stretch. I love horror and I have a very dry sense of humor, so I should’ve loved this, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. The story (obviously, perhaps) features a sort of demonic cat that refuses to die. Darren Johnson is a bloke down on his luck: his wife is gone and he drinks too much. A strange cat enters his life and a kind of bond is formed, however, the cat isn’t just your ordinary friendly feline, but something else entirely.

Like I said, there are some great moments of humor in this novella, as well as some gory scenes (the one with the horse, being a favorite). Darren is a bit of a tool, but quite engaging at the same time as a sort of likable loser and the weird cat guy was a good character too. The book is a quick read, so there is no fat attached, it is just a little unremarkable.

I have read a few things by Mr Cash now and enjoyed them. His recent novel ‘Pinprick’, reviewed here, was a much better offering, as are some of his other works, such as ‘Illness’ and ‘Hell & Sebastian’. All of these books I found to be original, well-written and entertaining. You might disagree and find this to be wonderful, and it isn’t bad, its just not brilliant either.

Pick up a copy of ‘The Cat Came Back’ from here.

Book review: Marked – Stuart Park

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It isn’t very often that a book (particularly a novella) leaves me gazumped with what to say about it, but Stuart Park has done that here with ‘Marked’ – his debut offering through the Sinister Horror Company.

‘Marked’ is certainly a dark read. It follows a couple who lose their daughter whilst at the beach one day. Their journey sees them deal with the loss in very different ways. Mark (the father) seems to keep himself occupied with his work and his daughter Kate, but a chance meeting with a sadistic girl called Kiko soon changes things. Meanwhile, his wife (Kim) is embroiled in an affair, whilst becoming part of a strange organisation. ‘Marked’ blurs the lines between fiction and reality, particularly with Mark. Violent visions plague him and after a job he discovers his daughter Kate is missing! The next part of the book was a little strange. Mark seems a little too relaxed about his missing daughter, you’d think he would be in a state of panic having already lost one already, but he seems a little unconcerned overall.

The book takes a few more turns for the weird before a bloody ending ensues. ‘Marked’ sees a real mash-up of styles, and it’s a dreamy sort of read. I’d like to compare this book to the most recent Behemoth album ‘The Satanist’ – at first listen I couldn’t see much to it. It sounded a little messy, with no real stand-out songs, just a constant barrage of noise, however, after a second listen the pieces started to fall into place and it has gone on to be one of my favorite albums of the past few years. So, I don’t often read through books twice, but I did with this one. The second time I read it start to finish without a break and although my head felt like it had been put inside a blender, I certainly enjoyed it a lot more and I got a lot more out of it.

Stuart Park is definitely one to watch. I get the feeling he is trying a few things out with this one and for the most part it works. Each page is like reading a completely different story and I applaud him for this. This could’ve caused problems, it doesn’t and the narrative actually works really well and makes you pay close attention to the story. If you enjoy a challenging read then this is the novella for you. It’s a little like being inside a washing machine and it took me out of my reading comfort zone, but, after all, isn’t that what we want dark fiction to do?

Pick up a copy of ‘Marked’ from here.