Review: The Lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty

the-lurking-seasonAbout The Lurking Season

The legends were true. The creatures were real. And now they’re back!

People have whispered about the tiny humanoid creatures in the woods and cornfields of Doverton for decades. Three years ago a wildfire devoured much of the rural village, but as the ashes were cleared, more questions were uncovered—including abandoned houses, missing people and dead bodies. Since the fire seemed to wipe out the majority of the town’s woodland acres, the murmurs about the creatures have gone quiet. The residents have begun to rebuild their lives, trying to forget about the tragedy that nearly killed them all. Yet the mysteries remained unsolved.

Now a group of people will go there with good intentions, venturing into the dead heart of Doverton, thinking it’s safe. But they will find out that the legend was only sleeping. Now it’s awake. And ready to kill again.


About the Author

Kristopher Rufty is the author of Angel Board, The Lurkers, Pillowface, A Dark Autumn, and Oak Hollow. He has also written and directed the independent horror films Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood.

He hosts Diabolical Radio, an internet radio show devoted to horror fiction and film.

But what he’s best at is being married to his high school sweetheart and the father of two crazy children who he loves dearly. Together, they reside in North Carolina with their hulk-like dog,Thor, and numerous cats.

For more about Kristopher Rufty, please visit his Website http://www.lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com

He can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley for review.]

Kristopher Rufty knows how to lay his hooks into a reader, and he really drew me in with a knockout closing to the first chapter, which introduces the tiny and wicked threat of the wonderfully named Haunchies. There’s just something about that name that I totally dig – it’s somewhat innocuous but carries a bit of mysterious weight, a certain edginess to it.

And these Haunchies…sheesh. Despite their diminutive stature, they’re as bloodthirsty and nasty as you’d expect and desire in a work of dark horror. Rufty doesn’t hold back, and, in fact, I’d dare say he brings every gruesome staple to the table here – there are impalings with rusty nails, stabbings, assaults, rape, and all kinds of other nasty business to curl your toes, including some truly creepy body horror that, on more than one occasion, made me squirm.

Let’s face it, though – if it weren’t for an interesting story and solid characters, this book would be nothing more than a bloody mess. And while there’s certainly an abundance of dirty deeds on display, the story at work was one I mostly appreciated, with some reservations. A group of social justice crusaders, many of whom have been victimized themselves, are working on rehabilitating an abandoned farmstead to serve as a recovery center for abused men and women. Only too late do they learn of the horrors surrounding their cheaply gotten property and of the fires that ravaged the now largely abandoned community of Doverton.

Although The Lurking Season is a sequel to Rufty’s earlier The Lurkers, I hadn’t read the prior installment and never felt like I was missing any vital information, and this book works well enough to stand on its own two-legs. The precipitating details are related as urban legends, and work to fill in both new reader’s like myself, as well as the book’s cast of characters (and based on the info given therein, I’m certainly compelled to check out The Lurkers one of these days).

As far as the characters go, well, I wasn’t quite as sold on them as I was on the story and the turbulence upending the Doverton farm. Aside from Heather and Erin, two of the book’s central females, I didn’t particularly latch onto anyone, although the severely victimized Brooke was one to root for, if only because of the perils she found herself thrust into. The book has a pretty large cast, too, with the point-of-view shifting between multiple characters, but most of them lack a sufficient amount of depth and serve only as fodder to get run through the meat-grinder.

Overall, I wasn’t completely blown-away by The Lurking Season, but I did find it be an engaging read and will certainly check out Rufty’s other books. The climax was suitably satisfactory, even though I found find a few moments to be stretching the bounds of credibility. However, those with sensitivities toward reading scenes of graphic sexual assault should be warned, as there are a number of rapes and threats of sexual violence throughout, which are quite disturbing.

Buy The Lurking Season at Amazon
Review: The Lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty

Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

gemini cell

About Gemini Cell

Publication Date: January 27, 2015

Myke Cole continues to blow the military fantasy genre wide open with an all-new epic adventure in his highly acclaimed Shadow Ops universe—set in the early days of the Great Reawakening, when magic first returns to the world and order begins to unravel…

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty—as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realizes his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son…


About the Author

As a secu­rity con­tractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and mil­i­tary officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber War­fare to Fed­eral Law Enforce­ment. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill.

All that con­flict can wear a guy out. Thank good­ness for fan­tasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dun­geons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing.


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley for review.]

Myke Cole is an author that’s been on my watch-list for a few years now. He first caught my attention with his debut, Shadow Ops: Control Point, which immediately garnered the quick pitch of X-Men Meets Black Hawk Down. Color me intrigued. But, for whatever reason, I never got around to reading the damn thing and it has sat in my TBR pile for going on three years. In that time, Cole has completed the Shadow Ops trilogy and is now working on expanding the world he created there.

So, imagine my surprise when I learned about Gemini Cell, the start of a prequel series to the Shadow Ops stuff. I had a perfectly good entry point now, without further adding to the backlog of a series already in progress, that was custom-built for a Cole newbie like myself. And let me tell you, this book is a terrific way to get in on the ground floor of Cole’s expanding story. There’s no learning curve required, and no knowledge needed of his previous works. It is the perfect entry point.

By the time I hit the 30% mark on this book, I was kicking myself for not having experienced any of Cole’s earlier work, because it was just that damn good. And the X-Men comparison? It may be less applicable to this particular story, but I will say fans of other comic book properties like Venom (particularly Rick Rememder’s recent run) or Spawn, with maybe a smidge of Robocop tossed in for good flavor, will be in for treat.

As a military vet, Cole is able to imbue a hearty dose of realism to the ops conducted by the book’s Navy SEALs and the going-ons of the Gemini Cell. But what he really nails are the little things, those deft touches that help this book shine, such as Schweitzer learning how to talk post-mortem. His body is dead, he has no pulse, no need for air, and no way to make his vocal chords vibrate to produce sound, unless he puts an incredible amount of will into it. It’s a terrific and thoughtful aspect that helps enrich the supernatural proceedings.

I also appreciated the stark contrasts between Schweitzer and the jinn he shares his corpse with – these two are polar opposites in everything from ego to combat styles. Cole plays this part of the story straight-up and avoids any worryingly hokey, mismatched buddy-cop hijinks, which would be an enormous disservice to the material. Rather, it’s dark and edgy and appropriately grim. It’s serious, dangerous business and readers who underestimate how well it works could be in for a vicious reprimand.

Gemini Cell was a terrific and brisk read, a real fun page turner. Think Vince Flynn plus a whole lot of magic mixed in and baked in hellfire, and you’ve got the gist of how awesome Myke Cole’s new series is shaping up to be. This book just has so many genre elements that I love, and Cole lovingly blends them together, that it makes for an easy recommendation. I haven’t read any of this author’s past works, but I aim to catch up fast. He’s just earned a new loyal reader in me.

Buy Gemini Cell At Amazon
Review: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

‘Hannibal’ season 3 first trailer — exclusive

Michael Patrick Hicks:

EW has the first trailer for Hannibal season 3. And hot damn, it is exquisite. I think I’m in desperate need of a series rewatch.

Originally posted on Inside TV:

[ew_image url=”http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2015/01/22/Hannibal.jpg” credit=”” align=”none”]Ready for an amuse-bouche from Hannibal season three?

Below is a teaser trailer with the first batch of footage from the third season of NBC’s acclaimed, cult-favorite thriller. The trailer shows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) obsessively hunting Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) in what we assume is Florence, Italy.

Expect the new season to mine elements from Thomas Harris’ Hannibal novels, including Hannibal Rising and Red Dragon. According to showrunner Bryan Fuller, the series will mash up elements from the books in a unique way—including revealing a very different origin story for the good doctor.

Though you’re going to have to wait until summer for the main course, this video should at least give a little taste: 

View original 4 more words

‘Hannibal’ season 3 first trailer — exclusive

Cover Reveal: No Way Home

For the past few months, I’ve been working with Lucas Bale and a team of other terrific up-and-coming sci-fi indie authors to produce an anthology. We are expecting it to hit shelves this March, so not too long of a wait, but still miles to go. At long last, though, I can finally share some official bits and pieces, and you get your first look at our final cover.

The art was designed by Jason Gurley, and it is full-on, non-stop bad ass.

Here’s a look, with the blurb below:

No Way Home Kindle

No Way Home.

Stories From Which There is No Escape.

Nothing terrifies us more than being stranded. Helpless, forsaken, cut-off. Locked in a place from which there is no escape, no way to get home.

A soldier trapped in an endless war, dies over and over, only to be awakened each time to fight again – one of the last remaining few seeking to save mankind from extinction.

In rural 70’s England, an RAF radio engineer returns to an abandoned military installation, but begins to suffer hallucinations, shifts in time and memories that are not his own.

A widower, one of ten thousand civilian space explorers, is sent alone to determine his assigned planet’s suitability for human colonisation, but stumbles across a woman who is part of the same program and shouldn’t be there at all.

A depressed woman in a poverty-stricken near-future America, where political apathy has allowed special interests to gain control of the country, takes part in a particularly unpleasant crowd-funding platform, established by the nation’s moneyed elite to engage the masses.

An assassin from the future, sent back in time to murder a woman, is left stranded when he fails in his mission and knows he will soon cease to exist.

These sometimes dark, sometimes heart-warming, but always insightful stories and more are to be found in No Way Home, where eight of the most exciting new voices in speculative fiction explore the mental, physical and even meta-physical boundaries that imprison us when we are lost.

Release date: March 2, 2015

This book will be 99 cents for the first 48 hours of its release, so be sure to mark your calendars and snag it immediately! You might also want to add it to your To Read list on Goodreads.

A few days ago, I hinted that we had one hell of an author contributing a foreword, and now the cat is officially out of the bag. Jennifer Foehner Wells, the awesome author of the ginormous science fiction best-seller Fluency, is helping us kick things off!

This project has been an enormous amount of fun, and I’m really damn excited to bring this one to readers. I think there is a heck of a lot to love in this collection, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading a few of these stories in advance. I’m ridiculously proud to have my short story, REVOLVER, appearing in print alongside the work of a whole bunch of wonderful authors, some of whom are making their big sci-fi debut right here in these pages.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the works of Bale, Wells, J.S. Collyer, S. Elliot Brandis, Harry Manners, S.W. Fairbrother, Nadine Matheson, and Alex Roddie, who’s making his sci-fi debut here under the pen-name A.S. Sinclair.

There will be more news on the release soon, but you might want to sign up for my newsletter, memFeed, for extra goodies as we get closer to our release date. Trust me, it will be well worth it.

And, if I can ask one last thing of you, please share this post far and wide and be sure to tell your friends and neighbors.

Cover Reveal: No Way Home

Review: Afterburn by Tim Curran

afterburnAbout Afterburn

Be quiet. Very quiet.
Don’t scream.
They can’t see you, but they can hear you.
And they’re coming.
Knocking at doors and reaching through windows, hungry to incinerate anything that moves, anything that breathes. Born in a searing hellstorm of radioactive dust, they own the night and if they touch you, they’ll burn the flesh from your bones.
Listen.
They’re coming now.
Don’t even whisper.
And don’t scream.


About the Author

Tim Curran lives in Michigan and is the author of the novels Skin Medicine, Hive, Dead Sea, and Skull Moon. Upcoming projects include the novels Resurrection, The Devil Next Door, and Hive 2, as well as The Corpse King, a novella from Cemetery Dance, and Four Rode Out, a collection of four weird-western novellas by Curran, Tim Lebbon, Brian Keene, and Steve Vernon. His short stories have appeared in such magazines as City Slab, Flesh&Blood, Book of Dark Wisdom, and Inhuman, as well as anthologies such as Flesh Feast, Shivers IV, High Seas Cthulhu, and, Vile Things. Find him on the web at:

http://www.corpseking.com
blog: http://satansmeatlocker.blogspot.com/


My Thoughts

A new Tim Curran release is always something to be excited about, but I couldn’t help feeling that Afterburn would have benefited from a shorter, more compact execution. There’s a five-star novella buried within this four-star (maybe 3.5 star) novel.

My main complaint is that Afterburn just gets too repetitive. The main threat in this story revolves around a group of hell wraiths terrorizing and incinerating the small town of Middleburg, Nebraska. The idea is nifty enough, but frankly, there’s just so many times you can read about some hapless victim getting cremated, and Curran pretty well covers all the bases, from exploding eyeballs to burning, popping fat, and human bodies rendered down to tallow and charred bones. There’s just a few too many instances of this, though, and it gets a little long in the tooth. And while the back half of the book works incredibly well, it also highlights just how bloated and unnecessary a few of the character vignettes in the front half were.

Curran spends a good amount of time hopping from character to character before finally settling on the main protagonists, which was another problem with the structure of the book’s opening, albeit a more minor one. I wasn’t quite sure who to root for for quite a while in the book’s early going’s as each new character that surfaced existed simply to show how prevalent and ominous the mysterious threat plaguing Middleburg really is. I can’t help but wonder how many of these characters were introduced and dispatched with just as quickly simply in an effort to increase the word count to novel length.

Still, Curran is able to explore his characters sufficiently well in their, too-frequently, limited page counts. Like Stephen King, Curran is a master of blue-collar horror works, taking regular Joes and shoving them through the meat grinder (sometimes literally, and explicitly detailed at that!) with supernatural prowess. In addition to Abby, we get small-town cops, a high school janitor, a real estate agent cheating on her spouse, and a crabby old bitty who has positioned herself as the neighborhood watch and tacky gossiper. As already noted, some get more minor roles than others in the local tapestry Curran shapes in Afterburn, but we get to know each of them well, sometimes to the detriment of a few of these lowlifes and ne’er-do-wells.

As with a lot of Curran books, though (at least the one I’ve read so far), once things get going there’s little letting up. And here, the action starts off from damn near page one as black rain fall across the town, followed by a burning, crystalline hail that slices and dices its way through any townsfolk unlucky enough to be outside at the time. Sixteen year old Abby is stuck inside babysitting and catching up on her favorite infomercials, and soon enough finds herself to be the caretaker not only for her neighbor’s newborn, but another boy whose parents were killed by the burning, yearning, hungry-for-more sentient incinerators.

The threat is damning and unstoppable, leading to a scorching, apocalyptic finale that really kicks this already-amped up story into overdrive. And while this isn’t the best work of Curran’s that I’ve read, it’s certainly worth a read-through.

Buy Afterburn At Amazon
Review: Afterburn by Tim Curran

State of The Blog 2015

So, despite the grandiose title, let’s just consider this a bit of housekeeping.

The blog is now a year old, and come February 21, I will have hit my one-year anniversary as an author. Lest I rest on my laurels, I thought I’d take this time to catch you up a few things.

Here’s the basics, for those new to this site:

You can connect with me not only here, but on plenty of other sites. Take a gander and feel free to add/like/friend/etc.

Facebook

Twitter

Tumbler

Google+

Goodreads

Instagram

All of these links can also be found right up at the very top.

Now, onto the bookish side of things.

In addition to publishing CONVERGENCE and CONSUMPTION last year, I’ve also been dabbling in book reviews, so you’ll find plenty of those here, and expect lots more to come. I’ll be dropping a review for Tim Curran’s latest horror release soon, and have plenty more titles in the queue thanks to NetGalley.

On the novel side of things, I’m prepping EMERGENCE for release and expect to have it out by the summer. This is a sequel to CONVERGENCE, and stuffed to the rafters with action, duplicity, and intrigue. I’m really happy with how it’s shaping up, and can’t wait to get it into reader’s hands! Stay tuned for more on this one soon.

More immediately, you’ll be seeing news soon on the release of an anthology, featuring an all-new short story, REVOLVER, from me. I’m hearing word of a March release for this one, and it includes fresh works from Lucas Bale, S. Elliot Brandis, Harry Manner, J.S. Collyer, Alex Roddie, S.W. Fairbrother, and Nadine Matheson. And, we have one hell of an author pegged for the foreword, but I think I’ll keep that one secret for the time being.

Now, if you would like to get early access to the anthology, as well as my upcoming release, EMERGENCE, sign up for my newsletter. I promise not to spam you, and only give you periodic updates or reminders about new stuff. In exchange, you’ll get free stories, and you’ll get them before anyone else. I’m also planning on offering up a few freebies for subscriber’s only. Join now!

Lastly, to my followers new and old, I just want to say thanks. Thank you for reading these posts, my books, tweets, ramblings, whatever. I hope you’ve been enjoying things, and I expect to have a fair amount of great content throughout 2015. Happy reading!

State of The Blog 2015

Review: Blockbuster by Lisa von Biela

blockbusterAbout Blockbuster

In the year 2025, survival of the fittest takes on new importance. Hungry for market share and driven by greed, BigPharma companies battle to produce the next blockbuster drug. And they will go to any length to win—and survive.

Dan Tremaine has found the secret to success for Denali Labs. Phil Horton is desperate to save his family firm, Horton Drugs. When they’re put in a head-to-head competition to find the cure for a deadly flesh-eating disease, who will win?

And at what cost?

The clock is ticking. The body count is rising.

And someone has created a monster.


About the Author

Lisa von Biela worked in Information Technology for 25 years, and still claims there is no application she cannot break in testing. She left the field to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2009. She now practices law in Seattle, Washington. One of her legal articles, a research piece published in the Food and Drug Law Journal, was cited in an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Just after the turn of the century, Lisa began to write short, dark fiction. Her first publication was in The Edge in 2002. She went on to publish a number of short works in various small press venues, including Gothic.net, Twilight Times, Dark Animus, AfterburnSF, and more.

She is the author of THE GENESIS CODE, THE JANUS LEGACY, ASH AND BONE, BLOCKBUSTER, and SKINSHIFT (coming June 2015).


My Thoughts

Lisa von Biela’s Blockbuster is a solid medical thriller that reads well, but lacks much in the way of character depth.

So, let me tackle the bad and get this gruesome bit of business out of the way first. Despite having a number of principal cast members, none of them feel very well defined or memorable. Outside of Dan Tremaine, owner of Denali Labs, I’m having a bit of a hard time remembering any of the other characters. There’s the female scientist, Sylvia, and her lawyer husband, as well as the scientist’s older co-worker who has a crush on her – and I remember that particular detail because as soon as he’s introduced von Biela spends a number of paragraphs telling us how much he’s crushing on her. There’s also the US President who is obsessed with the word “Homeland” and uses it unsparingly.

Dialogue is a bit flat, wooden, and rings a bit out of tune a bit too often to my ears. There’s also a few instances where dialogue serves primarily as infodump, because von Biela wants to convey certain information about the world her story inhabits, but can only relay it through long-winded conversations where people talk in ways that very few real-life humans speak.

Those are by big gripes with this book. Now, the good.

In spite of her stilted characters, Blockbuster tells a really damn good story. In fact, I found the story itself to be so gripping that the problems I had with the character’s realizations were not the deal breaker they otherwise might have been.

This germ-driven story of conspiracy and manipulation is great fodder to build a plot from. There’s all kinds of techno-whiz-bang stuff of the near-future coloring her world, including a nifty high-tech smart watch that puts the disappointing and strangely mundane iWatch to shame. But the crux is the story revolves around an all-too plausible horror of BigPharma playing a game of chicken with modified diseases and a high susceptible public in an effort to cause epidemics and drive up profits. It’s truly insidious stuff, and Tremaine, with his pseudo-cocaine habit, could easily be The Wolf Of Pharmaceuticals.

The disease in question is MRSA-II, which makes its flesh-eating predecessor look like the flu. I can typically handle traditional, vile horror romps. But, I’ve got a thing for needles, and von Biela’s judicious and vivid descriptions of the toll MRSA-II takes on the human body, and the early efforts at treatment, had me squirming.

Most importantly, Blockbuster is just, plain and simple, a compelling story. Some might even go so far as to call it an…infectious read? Puns aside, for me these good bits outweighed the bad, and I was drawn in by the dueling businesses/grudge match of Denali Labs and Horton Drugs and how the response to the changing pharmaceutical marketplace trumps ethical practices. There’s a writ-large morality play underpinning Blockbuster, and most of the characters in this book either lack ethics or have huge blind spots that allow them to trudge their way through enormous ethical lapses, bad decisions, and terrorism, all in the name of winning, while the wee little people pay the ultimate price for the rank hubris of these corporation’s bottom lines. Regardless of its narrowly defined characters and some schlocky dialogue, there’s a really good tale of smart bio-horror here. The execution may fall a little flat, but plot-wise it’s on the money.

Buy Blockbuster At Amazon
Review: Blockbuster by Lisa von Biela