Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tuesday Tunes: Aranda

Band of the Week: Aranda
Music Monday, Tuesday Tunes...when you keep the hours that I do, the days and nights run together, and calendars are for other people who live and die by the clock...but I'm here to discuss words, not numbers.

There is an undeniable connection between literature and music, with drama, fantasy and, sometimes, tragedy woven throughout both. Many people also associate Rock with all kinds of naughty stuff, but the music is so much more than attitude and appearance, just as genre fiction is so much more than plot twists and setting. Both provide a way to escape with a passion we can all relate to on some level.

Not The Same, 3rd Aranda Album
With all that said, this week's recommendation for your listening pleasure is ARANDA, from OKC. Not The Same, is their third release, but it's the album I stumbled upon while looking for something new to listen to, a few years back. I've been told the sound is very different from the previous two, but that's irrelevant to me. The tracks switch between moods and tempos rather haphazardly, which is kind of how I like my fiction...I've never been a fan of the predictable.

We Are The Enemy reminds me of scenes with groups in conflict. Don't Wake Me reminds me of the flawed personal traits of many characters in mystery-thrillers. Stay is uncharacteristically sweet, much like an unexpected happy ending. I could keep going, point is, every single song has its own flavor. Not surprisingly, this is one of my go-to albums when I'm reading an anthology featuring numerous authors with diverse writing styles.

I think flash fiction fans are the ones who will appreciate Aranda the most.

Keep listening...keep reading...keep checking back...

As always,

Friday, February 15, 2019

There's Something Wrong Up Here

Built at the turn of the century, Stratosphere Heights Amusement Park had seen more than its share of grisly—bordering on supernatural—events before being torn down to make way for the highway interchange. But when the person who knows the place best can't be trusted to keep his story straight, who can separate fact from fiction? A dark fantasy from the anthology: Postcards From The Void.

STRATOSPHERE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY by Antonio Simon Jr. is a clever piece of flash fiction. This story provides the perfect example of an unreliable narrator. I love how the story variations overlapped slightly, hinting at a bit of truth here and there, with a plausible explanation of the narrator's mental state.

If you enjoyed the author's short story, NO THANKS, you'll enjoy this one as well. Both stories emphasize a questionable state of mind.

As always,

Thursday, February 14, 2019

To The Rescue

Scholarly John Fiore has long sought to preserve the literary heritage of the fallen Empire in a library, a library funded by the proceeds of his life as a mercenary, assassin, and adventurer. His most recent assignment is to rescue Adriana Cimino, daughter of a lord of the Narrow Sea, from the lecherous Talassos, prince of the serpentine Naga.

LORD GIOVANNI'S DAUGHTER by Matthew W. Quinn would make a good video game, complete with half-serpent guards and rescuing the damsel in distress. Unfortunately, this tale doesn't work well as a short story. Plenty of action, but barely any dialogue, and no character depth, making it difficult to feel anything for Fiore or Adriana.

I don't know if it's the genre or the plot, but this is nothing like what I've come to expect from Quinn. The author's horror stories are much better than this fantasy piece.

As always,

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Eyes Are Burning Red

Ten years ago they swore revenge on the man who killed their comrade. Finally, a violent solar storm is plunging the world into darkness and giving them their chance.

When a solar storm knocks out all electricity for twelve hours, Cassie and Anders know that this might be their last opportunity to kill Michael Essien. Massively wealthy and surrounded by the strongest high-tech defense systems that money can buy, Essien lives at the top of a skyscraper in London. But the coming storm means that all his systems will be out of action for the night.

Setting out to gain vengeance, Cassie and Anders know that time is against them. They mount a daring, high-risk assault on the skyscraper, pitting their wits against whatever defenses Essien can scramble together in time. For one night only, the playing field is leveled. Will Essien's luck hold, or will the notorious gun-runner finally pay the price for a murder he once committed in the Middle East?

LIGHTS OUT by Amy Cross is a mix of suspense and drama, centered on two specialists keeping a vow they made to one another, after a mission goes terribly wrong. The POV alternates between Anders, Essien and Cassie, with a bit of Randall tossed in. Anders and Cassie think they'll be doing the world a favor by taking out Essien, as well as finally putting the past behind them. Essien, knowing he has enemies in London, expects Randall to provide security during the power outage. Randall is a wild card.

About halfway through, a major flashback reveals exactly what happened with Essien, but I still wasn't prepared for the shocking ending. Some scenes, particularly the ones with Cassie and Essien, are so intense, I didn't think I could keep going without breaking down.

Unlike most of the author's stories, there are no supernatural elements...just some people trying to tie up a very messy loose end with some calculated brutality.

As always,

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ran Away Crawling

Discover the secret origins of the "drink of the gods" in this dark fantasy fable by best-selling author Brian Keene. Chalco, a young Aztec boy, feels helpless as conquering Spanish forces near his village. But when a messenger of the gods hands him a key to unlock the doors of human perception and visit unseen worlds, Chalco journeys into the mystical Labyrinth, searching for a way to defeat the invaders. He will face gods, devils, and things that are neither. But he will also learn that some doorways should never be opened and not all entrances have exits... Tequila's Sunrise. Take the shot and open the door... if you dare. Deadite Press is proud to present this author's preferred edition of Brian Keene's long out-of-print novella, which contains material not included in previously published editions. Also included in this edition are seven bonus short stories: Dust, Burying Betsy, Fade To Null, Golden Boy, Two-Headed Alien Love Child, That Which Lingers, and Bunnies In August.

TEQUILA'S SUNRISE by Brian Keene is a story of opportunity. While mostly a slow setup, this tale has an ending best appreciated by hardcore Keene fans. I strongly recommend reading the author's previous work, before attempting this story.

BURYING BETSY is a flash fiction piece about a family trying to keep a little girl safe in a very extreme way.

DUST  is a post 9/11 story.

FADE TO NULL uses flash fiction to describe the deterioration of an elderly woman's mind.

BUNNIES IN AUGUST is a soul-crusher...I struggled with this one...we always have baby bunnies in our yard.

THAT WHICH LINGERS is the creepiest haunting story I've ever read.

TWO-HEADED ALIEN LOVE CHILD...I can't stop laughing...

GOLDEN BOY is a modern, albeit twisted, version of King Midas.

Overall, this is an interesting mix of stories, proving Keene is more than just a basic horror author, but I think readers will have to familiarize themselves with his novels, before reading any of his shorts.

As always,

Monday, February 11, 2019

Music Monday in the Lair

Many authors like to include a list of music they listen to when writing their stories...a sort of soundtrack. I've decided I would begin sharing some of the music I listen to when I read the stories I'm reviewing. Welcome to Music Monday in the Lair!

For the record, I listen to many different genres of music, but, just as I prefer horror to other literary genres, I will always prefer Rock over anything else. Unfortunately, there was a long period of time when the Rock genre disappointed me...I thought I'd have to be satisfied with my collection of 70s, 80s and 90s albums, cassettes and CDs (yeah, I'm that old). Then something amazing happened: Rock remembered how to kick ass again, instead of whining about life.

Over the last four or five years, many great Rock albums have been released, and I've found several bands to be the perfect background music for my reading marathons. Some have impressed me more than others, but they've all impressed me one way or another.

To begin, I present to you, Adelitas Way. Now, if you're looking for stats on the members or a history of their music, go find a music blog. I'm simply bringing up a couple of their albums which I listen to on a regular basis, while tearing through the latest round of horror stories.

Although Getaway is not their first album, it is the first time I listened to anything by Adelitas Way, and it blew me away. Their lyrics are down and dirty like songs from Guns N Roses and Mötley Crüe, but delivered with a smooth style reminiscent of bands like Sleeze Beez and Shotgun Messiah. With tracks such as Bad Reputation, Filthy Heart and Sometimes You're Meant To Get Used, the band establishes they are not here to play nice. Getaway flows with darkness and personal demons, setting the mood for those storylines centered on a character readers love to hate.

Their most recent album, Notorious, is just as badass as Getaway. The first track, Notorious, is like the silver tip on boot headed directly for your face: you are going to feel it, and it is hard. Other great tracks include Ready For War, You're Not The Only One and Vibes...a perfect backdrop for any character-driven story.

Adelitas Way has already had some of their music featured in several forms of media ranging from the WWE theme song to the soundtrack of Saw 3D, but I'm hoping more movies in the horror genre will use this band in future soundtracks.

Check back next Monday for more music suggestions to accompany your next reading session!

As always,

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Stay With Me 'Til The End

Officer Norman was only a teenager when his quiet neighbourhood fell victim to a brutal serial killer's bloody games. Too young to help, but not too young to feel helpless. Now, twenty five years later, as he patrols his beat, he can't help but wonder about the killer. A killer who is still out there, somewhere. Haunting memories of a case never to be solved . . . or is it?

THE SECRET LIFE OF MY IMAGINARY FRIEND by horror authors Andrew Lennon and Stephen White would make a fantastic crime-thriller movie. The serial murders are revealed through flashbacks, as the narrator is on his way to a concert. The half-time show leads to such a wicked twist, I had to reread the ending three times to make sure I understood what had happened.

I love being caught off guard.

As always,