Wednesday, July 29, 2009

“Ghostwriter”, (Hachette Book Group), by Travis Thrasher

What exactly should “horror” be? Some readers view it as entertainment, pure and simple. For them, the horror genre is a safe way to experience thrills and chills. Others view it as a vehicle for serious social commentary, an opportunity to address weighty issues through speculative storytelling.

Still others think it's the best way to depict the battle between good and evil, reminding us that too often evil wins, and that “good” can be far more frightening than we ever imagined. Regardless, most everyone can agree that storytelling with a purpose is the best possible kind, and that's what Travis Thrasher offers in “Ghostwriter.” This isn't a chilling story for the sake of thrills; Thrasher writes with a deeper purpose.

Dennis Shore lives every aspiring writer's dream: the life of a bestselling author with a rabid fan base and several movie adaptations in his pocket. His novels have sold millions, he's made a living from channeling his darker fears into compelling stories, and his ever fervent imagination is always ready to churn out another bestseller.

Until his wife is diagnosed with cancer and dies shortly after. Until the words dry up and go away. Suddenly, everything that made Dennis feel special – his wife – and made him noteworthy – his creativity – are gone. And yet, he still faces demands from his agent, publisher, and fans. Most importantly, there are his own demands: that he be a strong father for his daughter, and most importantly: that he BE Dennis Shore. Author. Wordsmith. Master storyteller. None of which are true anymore.

In a moment of desperation he comes across a completed manuscript sent to him by a fan asking for critique. It's good. Very good. So good, Dennis does the unthinkable – claims it as his own. Now, just as “his” newest novel hits the stands to great acclaim, the true author of the manuscript turns up. He's angry. Twisted. Driven by cruel desires and a need for revenge. Worse yet, Cillian Reed will take Dennis places far darker than any the author has ever imagined; places he may never return from.

Thrasher takes what could easily have been a cautionary tale and crafts a thriller that asks some insightful questions about the nature of storytelling, and the value of stories shaped from true, personal fears. Along the way, he uses Dennis Shore to ponder matters of faith and destiny, wondering about why some suffer so much when they don't seem to deserve it. As a writer, Thrasher's talent speaks for itself. He shows a deft touch with his narrative, using the slightest nudges to misdirect and create suspense, and at times he displays a subtle lyricism that's a pleasure to read. Readers can expect more good things from this author.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Joe R. Lansdale on The Funky Werepig!

Never in a million years would I think our little clown and circus show would be able to have a legend such as JOE R LANSDALE as a guest. Winner of more awards than we can count, his novels and short stories have run entire series, been made into films and television and even into comic books. You don't climb much higher than Joe R Lansdale and he's here to discuss his new novel VANILLA RIDE. We just may crash the BTR network with this one! Also, listen tonight for a chance to win a signed copy of Nate Kenyon's awesome new novella, Prime!

Halloweenland, (Cemetery Dance), Al Sarrantonio

For years, Ray Bradbury was the undisputed master of everything that was fine and good about that darkly magical month October and its climax, Halloween. His novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and his short story collection “The October County” were autumnal portraits of the mystery and magic of those smoky weeks before a traditional night of tricks, treats, and the celebration of all things fantastic, phantasmic, and otherworldly.

Recently, however, prolific author Al Sarrantonio has taken up the “pumpkin mantle”, so to speak, with his wonderfully atmospheric and imagery-filled Orangefield novels, “Horrorween”, “Hallow's Eve”, and “Halloweenland”. In Orangefield, Sarrantonio created a world where it was always October, always just before Halloween, where the tang of apple cider spiced the air, the leaves wove a tapestry of brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows, where the Jack O'Lanterns always grinned with manic glee...and ominous, dark and terrible things were always afoot.

Cemetery Dance's signed, limited hardcover edition of the final chapter in Sarrantonio's Orangefield odyssey, “Halloweenland”, is a worthy addition to any collector's stash. Hardcover, artistic interior design, the stirring art of Alan M. Clark gracing the cover, it's an attractive piece, indeed. As a tale, “Halloweenland” isn't quite as powerful as its predecessors, (however, novels in the falling action of a trilogy often aren't, by nature), but for the most part, he delivers the goods again. He pulls a neat trick with the reappearance of two protagonists from former tales, and – as always - his prose is a treat to read. Sarrantonio paints portraits with words and imagery as well as anyone writing today. “Halloweenland” pays a worthy homage to a season loved by many.

This edition is limited to 1250 signed copies. Visit and purchase one before supplies run out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

“The Kill Crew”, ( Publishing), by Joseph D'Lacey

In his new novella, British horror author Joseph D'Lacey turns his sights on the future, rendering a Bradburyesque (think “Martian Chronicles”) tale of an apocalyptic world where the pleasures are few, and each day is a fight for survival. Perhaps it's his different take on zombies – the “hot” horror monster, at the moment – that makes this novella work, or the melancholic tenor of his prose. Either way, an author who's already displayed a deft ability at using genre conventions to deliver elevated thought comes through again.

The world is a box to Sheri Delgado. Literally, as it is to everyone else. Two-hundred souls, crammed into several city blocks, living a stripped down existence of bare essentials, and something else: their numbers keep dwindling, while those changed when the “Long Silence” began keep coming. It won't be long until the “Commuters” - those who've been changed – overrun them. It's just a matter of time, and not to pander to the cliché...but time is running out.

Sheri's on a “Kill Crew”, a unit of seven who patrol their area, as far as they can...and eliminate Commuters. As many as they can, for there's no way to save or recover those changed...except for a bullet to the head. However, it's work, of a sort. It gives purpose. Instills a sense of duty. For Sheri, it's a dependable foundation to lean on: she's a “Crewer”. It's what she does. It's what she is.

Everything changes when she almost dies in a vain attempt to save a fellow Crewer. That, and her relationship with Ike – normally so manageable – has gotten messy. Complicated. Also, a relationship has grown between her and a withdrawn, abused teen named Trixie, and suddenly, the once content Sheri is desperate to escape, to find a way out, to see if there's anything else beyond. Their escape comes in the form of an abandoned Humvee that miraculously still works.

Salvation, however...may still come in the form of a bullet. What the Commuters have is contagious, spread so easily...through anything organic of the outside world.

And Sheri has dared bring something in.

Visit Pre-order The Kill Crew today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Prime, (Apex Publications), by Nate Kenyon

From Bram Stoker Finalist Nate Kenyon comes a blistering, fast-paced tale channeling the likes of “Blade Runner”, “Johnny Mnemonic”, even a bit of “The Matrix”. Offering social commentary as well as thrills and intrigue, Kenyon shifts from horror to science fiction and cyberpunk smoothly, enhancing an already strong storytelling reputation and widening his repertoire.

From the moment William Bellow arrives on-site at New London to eliminate a deadly programming bug in their lucrative virtual reality program, he senses something amiss. The managers act overly protective, secretive and ambivalent about his presence, reluctant to give him access to certain files – despite recent deaths caused by their program. Also, it quickly becomes clear that he's being monitored, perhaps by New London security forces. When he meets a mysterious girl named Kara, his questions increase. Who is she? Why does she seem so familiar?

And why is there a room full of Kara-clones, waiting to be born?

Bellows also questions himself. Six years ago he suffered a terrible accident, almost lost himself in cyberspace. Why are his memories of recovery so hazy? What really happened to him that day? And why would New London hire him, someone who's been out of the game for six years?

The answer lies inside the great computer servers at New London. A dark presence lurks there, far greater than any security program or computer virus, and it wants him in particular. When next he goes online, he may never return.

To say that this is Kenyon's best work is a bit of a misnomer – indicating his other works are of lesser quality, which is simply not true. “Prime”, however, is much more ambitious, and offers serious introspection on the nature of man and technology...and where our world is headed. In a way – while carefully avoiding hyperbole – “Prime” offers a similar impact as Bradbury's classic “Fahrenheit 451”, because in a world that becomes ever more “plastic”, where “reality” is so easily simulated...Kenyon's story is hauntingly plausible.

Visit and Buy it today.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Funky Werepig: Nathan Lambert

Time for The Funky Werepig again. What do you get when you throw in the author of SIDESHOW PI, the editor of the anthology MALPRACTICE and the creator of the site BUCKET O GUTS? Well, it's either the next MTV reality show or it's NATE LAMBERT! Man, I really hope it's Nate...

For free tonight - to the winner - The Funky Werepig and Shroud Magazine are offering:

Limited edition....$65 dollar value....SIGNED by Rick Sardinha, T.M. Wright and introduction - and signed - by JACK KETCHUM!

"Strange Seed", by T. M. Wright

"Urban Gothic", (Leisure Fiction), by Brian Keene

“Urban Gothic” bears the marks of a classic Brian Keene “gut punch”: flawed characters plunged into a terrifying scenario that not only pulls mercilessly at the reader's emotions, but also challenges the stomach. Though “Castaways” gives it stiff competition in the gut-churning category, “Urban Gothic” is so evocative of movies like “Wolf Creek” and the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” that its concept is much more tangible, therefore much more terrifying than “Castaways”. A story like this will give anyone pause when considering trespass on old, seemingly abandoned property.

“Shit Happens” - the universal truth of bad things happening to good people, most often unexpectedly. This seems the case when a carload of lifelong friends breaks down in the middle of a Philadelphian ghetto, returning from a concert. Things quickly complicate, however, when they mistake the advances of some neighborhood toughs as threatening and flee into an old, seemingly abandoned Victorian house at the end of the drive. There, they hope to call the police and wait in safety until their arrival.

Safety is short-lived, however - a span of bare minutes. A mighty, cobbled-together sledgehammer swings from the darkness and slaughters two of them, crushing their skulls, pulping their brains. In a heartbeat, the survivors flee deep into the damned house's bowels – only to encounter nightmares beyond their worst reckonings. Inbred cannibals would be acceptable, religious fanatics preferable to the mutated monstrosities waiting in the wet dark beneath the house's foundations. These things care nothing for reason or logic. They feel only one thing: hunger, and they live to feed.

“Urban Gothic” is trademark Keene: fast, thrilling, terrifying, sickening. The story works like a fishhook in your mouth, however: blink, and suddenly you've plunged through eighty pages. What elevates this from being “Castaways” in a house, however, isn't what happens inside, so much, as without: when the neighborhood gang that accidentally scared the friends into the house mobilize and launch a rescue. It's the same thread of substance that runs through many of Keene's novels, elevating them above standard “slack and hash” fare. Regardless of the ending, it gives the reader hope, because characters with principles are moved to action.

Visit and Buy it today.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Fresh Blood" (Burning Effigy Press) Alexander, Dunlap, Freeman

“Fresh Blood” is a new annual chapbook series published by Burning Effigy Press. Designed to highlight new and emerging genre writers, (hence the moniker “Fresh Blood), this first edition features stories from three names whose stock has been rising as of late, and for good reason. Each carefully crafted story uses unique narrative voices to tell very different tales, which helps the chapbook live up to its name.

“Growth Spurts” by Dave Alexander, the managing editor of Rue Morgue magazine, twists the classic “coming of age tale”, and it's a wonderfully strange, beautifully weird story that puts new meaning into the oft used phrase: “Your body is changing”. This story is unique and fresh, successfully avoiding the over-utilized tropes of vampirism and lycanthropy, (werewolves), which have been used as vehicles for the onset of puberty far too many times. The ending is certainly unexpected, and the story is rooted in the universal fear of growing up and facing the alien world of adulthood.

“Left Dead”, by Kelli Dunlap, (whose first novel is forthcoming from Morning Star Press), is a hard-bitten tale of a mother seeking revenge for her daughter's abuse. In an uncompromising, terse narrative, Dunlap characterizes well the maternal rage of a mother striking back at the man who destroyed her daughter's innocence. In many ways, the hook at the end is expected – but that doesn't diminish the story, by any means. In fact, it's a twist that readers will suspect but dread all the same, giving the story that much more punch.

“Mourn Not the Sleepless Children” is yet another very different tale. In this, occult detective and author Bob Freeman examines the myth of the banshee in Scotland's Highlands, and he utilizes the legendary figure of Aleister Crowley” - a renowned occultist writer and investigator – as his main protagonist. Freeman aptly delivers an atmospheric tale of dark fantasy, and he also introduces an epic character that readers will certainly want to encounter again in larger works.

Best of all, in a market that features many highly priced “signed, collector editions”, this chapbook is a quality product that's reasonably priced. Make sure to buy a copy soon, before supplies run out.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Free Books and The Funky Werepig

It's one of those insane holiday weekends we love, so the Werepig wanted to shoot off our own fireworks with BTR personalities THE MORTAL VAMPIRE and MJ! It's a night of ghost stories, alien abductions, Bigfoot sightings and swamp gas. Plus some more great summer book giveaways and...maybe even a reading from the paranormal romance DRACULA'S WINKEE?

Today's free giveways: a Leisure Fiction bonus pack! Up for grabs are the follow ARCS (Advance Reader Copies)

Deep in the Darkness - Michael Laimo
Cover - Jack Ketchum
Jake's Wake - John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow
Black Cathedral - L. H. Maynard & M.P.N. Sims

Start guessing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

TThe Bone Factory, (Leisure Fiction), by Nate Kenyon

Kenyon's third outing is intelligent horror that under no circumstances should be passed up. Set against Canada's wintry backdrop, “The Bone Factory” vibrates with atmospheric chills. With each page the horror builds, cresting into a frantic dash to the end. Kenyon excels not only at building tension, but creating characters that readers truly care about. Fostering that type of empathy in his audience can only make his stock rise as a writer.

David Pierce and his family are living a very real horror: unemployment in a sagging job market. After losing his job over a matter of integrity, David has searched everywhere for work. Things are tense between he and his wife Helen. Worse, they're worried about their daughter, Jessie. A bright, precocious child, she suffers chronic nightmares and struggles with an obsessive compulsive disorder. They're at their wits end, and David fears his family will suffer irreparable damage if he doesn't find work soon.

It seems to good to be true: a job offer at their most desperate moment, at a hydro-power plant in a small Canadian town. The Pierces move North, excited and relieved. It's not long, however, before David senses something amiss. A strange aura lingers in the frigid air, and unexpected accusations of environmental negligence puts him in the middle of an investigation he didn't expect. Has he been hired as a fall guy? What is his employer hiding? What invisible menace lurks in the snow-covered forest around his home...and how is it intruding into his daughter's dreams?

Much like Mary SanGiovanni in her “Hollower” novels, Kenyon masterfully instills a mood of creeping, foreboding chills. This is a story that takes it time and builds, however, so it's best read and enjoyed leisurely, over a period of time. Also, Kenyon illuminates horrific elements that find their roots in the everyday: a crumbling family, spouses worried about their marriage, a war veteran scarred by more than just battle trauma. This type of substance will always have a greater impact than gore-filled bloodbaths, because it strikes at the very heart of being human and afraid.

Visit and Buy it today.