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Category: horror (Page 1 of 3)

Strain of Resistance – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Michelle Bryan

In Michelle Bryan’s Strain of Resistance, a mysterious crystalline cloud wipes over Earth, leaving only death and destruction in its path. Eight years later, Emma Bixby and her fellow survivors are still fending off the alien leeches that infiltrated the planet. When some of their own go missing, Bixby and her crew set out to find out what happened—and discover something worse than they could have ever imagined.


In some ways, Strain of Resistance seems typical of its genre and overly similar to other apocalyptic survivor stories like it. It channels well-known horror works like The Walking Dead, Alien, and The Mist, but perhaps a bit too much. Unfortunately, the cliché aspects of this novel almost seem to outweigh the wholly original ones. Also, the main character, Bixby, is a difficult one to fully get behind and relate to. She tends to behave more like an exaggerated caricature than a believable protagonist, which can sometimes make her rather unlikable. Together, these aspects result in Strain of Resistance perhaps not living up to its full potential.


However, Strain of Resistance is still an incredibly enjoyable novel. Michelle Bryan has quite the talent as a horror writer; her monsters are delightfully terrifying and her eerily vivid style of writing is sure to please any seasoned fan of the horror genre. The fast-paced narrative doesn’t waste time with filler material, but rather gets right down to the nitty-gritty gore and carnage that captivates from the very first sentence. Strain of Resistance is an exciting, horrifying, exhilarating plunge into one group’s desperate struggle for survival that is guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

 

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Muse: A novel of unrelenting terror – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Arjay Lewis

In Arjay Lewis’ The Muse, Jack Court is a famed, best-selling horror writer—but also a grisly serial killer. His inspiration for both come from a mysterious, parasitic creature, but after a sudden car accident, the creature detaches itself from Jack, in search of a new host. Without his murderous companion, Jack is lost, willing to do anything it takes to get his muse back.

Although certainly creative and suspenseful, there’s a bit too much going on in The Muse. Far too many characters get to narrate their own chapters, making their collective points of view seem convoluted and sometimes confusing. Focusing instead on only the three main characters—Jack Court, the history writer Harry Godwine, and Sheriff Neil Trajan—would have been a simpler and more straightforward approach. Also, there are some chapters and scenes that are a bit too slow and drawn out, interrupting the otherwise fast-paced and exciting plot.

Aside from that, The Muse is a fantastic horror novel, full of exhilarating suspense and creative descriptive language. Arjay Lewis is clearly inspired by well-known names in the horror genre like Stephen King, but is still an entirely unique and fresh writer with plenty of originality. The Muse jumps right into the horror and suspense from the very first page, then keeps the reader hooked and frantically turning pages until the very end. The novel’s conclusion is surprising and wickedly satisfying, a memorable ending to an overall great horror story. The Muse is sure to please fans of the classic horror genre with its exciting and delightfully creepy story—but maybe it’s a novel best not read in the dark.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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A Key of Whispers – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Jacob Albrecht

In Jacob Albrecht’s A Key of Whispers, Daniel is traumatized by having witnessed his father’s death in a car accident years earlier. Plagued by vivid nightmares and afraid of anything related to horror, Daniel decides that the only way he can face his fears is to face them head-on. The “Horror House” at the local fair seems like a safe place to start, but he soon discovers that the terrors in the house are real – and terrifying.

A Key of Whispers holds a great deal of promise, but there are a few areas in the book that are lacking a bit. For instance, the timeline skips around a lot in the beginning, which can lead to some confusion for readers. Also, there are too many characters introduced at once, which takes away from the power of the narrator’s dialogue. Certain phrases and scenes seemed a bit distracting or otherwise unnecessary, but none were so detrimental as to tarnish the rest of the book.

In fact, A Key of Whispers is a fantastic horror novel, largely because of its believability. Jacob Albrecht writes in a powerful and descriptive, yet relatable voice that draws the reader in and keeps them hooked until the very end. Although there may be a few horror tropes sprinkled throughout the novel, they are well-written and feel more like revisiting the classics than being pounded with clichés. A Key of Whispers is terrifying and suspenseful, yet creative and immersive in a way that few horror writers can replicate; this is a great debut novel from a new horror writer who shows a great deal of promise for all his future writing endeavors.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Stage 3 – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Ken Stark

Stage 3 by Ken Stark is a classic zombie apocalypse novel that follows cynical Hank Mason as he tries to survive the aftermaths of a mysterious virus that is spreading through the world. Packed with battles, escape plans and fears of infection, readers are given a chance to follow Mason as he fights for his survival.

Stark has written a book that fits well into the zombie genre. There are action packed sequences and a real sweetness in the relationship between Mason and ten-year-old Mackenzie, a girl he teams up with. Together they successfully fight off zombie hordes as they start to understand what has happened to the world and where their survival lies. The inclusion of the quest for Mackenzie’s aunt Sarah also adds something to this very simple plot. The writing style is simple, allowing Stage 3 to be a perfect quick read.

However, while true to the classics, Stage 3 offers nothing new to the genre. It is predictable, full of rehashed tropes. There are also stylistic problems with the novel ranging from the overly descriptive prose, which becomes tedious to read, repetitive dialogue and whole passages that do nothing but give Mason and Mackenzie another set of zombies to fight. These problems weigh down the novel, and even die-hard fans of zombie fiction may not be won over by the simple story.

Overall, Stage 3 is a very simple story. It fits into the zombie genre but does not offer anything new. This is a real pity as Stark’s simple writing style, when not bogged down by descriptions, makes for easy reading and would be great with a better suited to a plot with more depth.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The House on Hayden Pond – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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J. Monks

In J. Monks’s The House on Hayden Pond, Paul Bolton is excited to move his family into their dream house. Inherited from a deceased family member who curiously left it out of his will, the spacious country home is the answer to Paul’s desperate prayers. However, the house on Hayden Pond has a dark history, eviler than anything Paul could have ever imagined. There’s a demonic presence within its walls that soon begins mercilessly terrorizing his family. The Boltons have an unlikely ally who is trying to protect them, but that may not be enough to help them survive the gruesome horrors in store for them.

The House on Hayden Pond is a good horror story, but perhaps, a bit too cliché. It resembles dozens of other, quite similar haunted house-themed horror stories. Its plot may intrigue readers who are new to this genre, but seasoned horror fans may grow tired of its familiarity. However, what may alienate all readers is The House on Hayden Pond’s odd pacing. The entire plot seems overwhelmingly rushed and unbalanced; J. Monks races through each scene and fumbles with the conclusion, all while trying to juggle too many details at once. Paired with confusing and sudden shifts in point of view, The House on Hayden Pond lacks the gripping suspense that the horror genre requires.

Despite all that, The House on Hayden Pond is, overall, quite an enjoyable book. It is filled with vivid imagery and descriptive details; the pure imagination and vision that went into this novel is impressive. J. Monks writes scary scenes frighteningly well, and shows a lot of promise as a horror writer. The House on Hayden Pond does severely need a developmental overhaul, but it’s also a fantastic hint at what to expect in the future from J. Monks, who already appears to be a rising talent in the horror genre.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Chrysalis and Clan – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Jae Mazer

In Jae Mazer’s Chrysalis and Clan, Beth thinks she’s on her way to a normal, albeit distressing, visit with her aging mother. However, one cryptic speech and a murder-suicide later, Beth wakes up in a hospital, full of fear and doubt. Who is she? What is she? She’s not so sure anymore. Meanwhile, her daughter, Etta, is caught in a tragedy of her own. A “boogeyman” has ravaged their family, and now, he’s relentlessly hunting her. Etta and Beth must find each other and band together to survive a devastating whirlwind of death, horrifying creatures, and the dark unknown.

Chrysalis and Clan is certainly not a book for the faint-hearted. It is a unique and seamless blend of traditional and modern horror stories, the paranormal, and science-fiction that, although done well, may be a bit too graphic for certain readers. Fans of the horror genre in general, though, are going to love this one. There are a few small plot holes here and there (such as the finer details of the otherworldly beings represented in this book), but none are so gravely detrimental as to ruin the overall reading experience. Rather, Chrysalis and Clan was immediately captivating, and never slowed down from there.

There are two main aspects about this book that make it such a winner for the horror genre, the first of which is Jae Mazer’s impeccable pacing. Chrysalis and Clan’s plot unravels in a manner that is simultaneously methodically mysterious and on-the-edge-of-your-seat exciting. The second winning aspect is the phenomenal use of description. From basic character descriptions to unraveling scenes of carnage and horror, Jae Mazer consistently delivers a vivid, enthralling image with her well-chosen words. Frankly, it is so clearly portrayed that it could make an excellent transition to film, one day. Chrysalis and Clan is a truly thrilling horror novel, one that does justice to its genre while still maintaining its own bone-chilling, expertly concocted individuality.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Ancient Blood – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Brian McKinley

In Brian McKinley’s Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony, Avery is obsessed with vampires- their culture, their way of life, their history, everything. After a one-night stand with a woman whom he later realizes is an actual, real-life vampyr, Caroline, he begs her to change him. However, he soon learns that being a vampyr is not as idyllic as it once seemed. Avery and Caroline are hunted, captured, and imprisoned by Caroline’s brutal and ruthless Creator, Sebastian. Together, they must find a way to escape their inhuman captivity, all while reconnecting with their own lingering humanity in the process.

Much of Ancient Blood, although entertaining, seemed far too rushed. Many key plot points were skimmed over or skipped altogether, as if Brian McKinley was constantly in a hurry to get onto the next event in the story. This rushed narrative ultimately harmed the novel in certain areas, most notably in the lack of chemistry between Avery and Caroline. More thorough development and elaboration throughout the story would have been invaluable to Ancient Blood. Instead, in some ways, this novel still reads like an unfinished draft.

Aside from that, Ancient Blood was a most enjoyable horror novel. Its humorous, conversational narrative helped balance out some of the darker aspects of the story. Also, Brian McKinley’s use of descriptive language was stunning; no matter the subject, everything was described thoroughly and vividly. There was plenty of thought and research put into the several “species” of vampires noted in the novel, making the entire book even more captivating. All in all, Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony could use a fair bit of revision here and there, but it’s already excellent as is. Without ever feeling cliché or tired, Ancient Blood shines a whole new light on the traditional vampire as we know it.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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2016 Horror Novel Contest Winner – Drawing Dead

Today’s Featured Author and Book

Drawing Dead

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Book Description:

Faolan O’Connor spent his life killing for men like Legs Diamond and Lucky Luciano, and now it s his turn to face the music. But when vampire Darcy Killian offers him immortality, Faolan enters a world of violence, wealth, and power beyond anything he s ever imagined.

Driven by ambition and guilt, Faolan fights his way up the ranks in a battle to justify his sins with success. He s learned the hard way that relationships are vulnerabilities and friends are just enemies in disguise, but he also knows that he can t conquer a city alone.

Aided by an emotionally-crippled genius and a warm-hearted call girl, Faolan builds a loyal crew with which to challenge the tyrannical Killian s rule. However, will this re-awakened humanity prove a fatal flaw or his ace in the hole? With his life and the future of the city he loves at stake, can Faolan play his cards right or is he drawing dead?


Notes: 

Drawing Dead (Faolon O’Connor Book 1) takes you back to the 1930s era of organized crime when mobsters, gangsters and mafia bosses were somewhat common.  Yet, author Brian McKinley has written a book that is far from stereotypical.  Why?  Because Faolan O’Connor isn’t just a gangster, he’s a freshly turned vampire.  The expectations of those above him aren’t necessarily difficult for this tough-as-nails, cold-hearted killer or are they?  Faolan’s superiors test him, and his so-called friends willingly turn their backs on each other to save their own necks.  Whether or not McKinley’s young vampire will succeed in this new world or whether he’ll finally end up dead remains to be seen.

From the get go, readers will likely be captivated by the cover.  It fully captures the essence of Drawing Dead.  Vampires don’t run around announcing to the world what they are, and the secrets that are fluidly woven throughout Drawing Dead are reflected not only from the cover but from page one.  Admittedly, the scenes do jump around a bit, which can make it a little confusing at times.  But there is so much action and intrigue embedded within the storyline that this is an aspect that can almost be overlooked.  McKinley does a great job offering readers the opportuntiy to take a look at their own values and morals as Faolon seems to reconnect with his humanness.  Of course, this may end up ending his life.  Highly recommended – readers can feel the danger, the excitement and the horror of a vampiric gangster life in this pragmatic tale. 

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com


Brian McKinley

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Brian Patrick McKinley doesn’t really exist. He’s a constructed mortal identity used by a relatively young Vampyr in order to publish the truth about The Order. Due to the world-wide influence of The Order and its minions, these accounts must all be published as fiction; however, they are all very real and actually happened. Sometimes the names and sequence of events have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and to keep from getting sued. 

Brian is no longer a typical Vampyr and, for this reason, lives in hiding and writes from a secret location. The real “Brian” lives a life of danger and excitement; he loves Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire as much as he loves Chicken Fried Steak. He’s a reader, a role-player, and a dreamer who doesn’t believe that “liberal” is a dirty word. He’s lived many lifetimes and is eager to share as many of them as possible with his readers.

 


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of Drawing Dead.


Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

Smaller

 


Authors join our Creative Author Marketing Facebook group

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.30.22 AM

A place to share tips, advice and wisdom about marketing your book. Ask for advice. We’re here for you!

Traveling entrepreneurs, Drs. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D. are mentoring entrepreneurs and authors around the world. As best selling authors, speakers, marketing and branding experts their podcast Authors Talk About It has become quite popular.

We help you develop 3 key things you MUST have to gain success with your book.

Your Mindset
Your Tool Set
Your Skill Set


Have you checked out the 2017 Romance Novel Contest yet? Deadline is 1/15/17

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

2017 Romance Novel Contest

Whether you’re a first time author or a New York Times Best Seller this book award contest is for you.

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!

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Red Lakes

Today’s Featured Author and Book

Red Lakes

Click to get your copy!

Book Description:

No greatness was ever borne without pain… A nuclear holocaust has devastated humanity. Out of the ashes rises a new totalitarian Soviet state that bears a chilling resemblance to a major fast food chain. Everyone eats burgers and the savior of the state-approved religion has red hair, white skin, and enormous feet. Sergei, a meat farmer in the Ukraine, learns that he is actually a clone of the State’s founder and destined to become its Premier. The secret police whisk him away to Moscow where he is prepared for absolute power. Sergei is kidnapped by a group of terrorists who are bent on overthrowing the State. They open Sergei’s eyes to the atrocities meted out by the State on its people: torture, human cloning, and dietary oppression. Sergei escapes his captors and returns to Moscow but to what end? Does he assume the Premiership or follow the terrorists in their desperate struggle?


Notes: 

Joshua Harding’s Red Lakes depicts our world set in the future, after a nuclear war has devastated humanity. Set in what was once Russia and Ukraine, the NSSR (New Soviet Socialist Republic) maintains absolute power over its citizens by controlling what they eat. The people are kept fat, lethargic, and ill by feeding them only foods from the approved “Holy Menu” as conveyed by the Savior Rahnuld – burgers, fries, and cola. Reminiscent of Soviet Russia, people inform on each other to Main Authoritative Komitet (MAKs) to keep themselves safe, lest they be the ones tortured for being suspected of consuming vegetables or turning against the regime. There is a black market for fresh vegetables, and the rebels fighting the NSSR are known as Vegeterrorists. The Premier, MigLenin, is a clone of the founder of the state, and the story follows the life of Sergei Aleksandrevich as he discovers he is also an enhanced clone of the founder to be trained as MigLenin’s successor. As he is kidnapped, separated from his pregnant wife, and groomed for his new path in life, he faces the decision to either become the future Premier or join the Vegeterrorists in changing the future.

This novel was a well-written, fascinating read. Red Lakes may be set in the future, but it bears a striking resemblance to the current social and political environment. In a world in which it is easier to find processed junk food than fresh, organic produce, and where the government creates laws around reproduction, Sergei must make a choice: to maintain the status quo, or fight for a better system. Each twist brings the reader deeper into the novel, and pushes the reader to find out what decision Sergei will make. It is not a light, easy read, but it is brilliantly written and hard to put down.

Originally critiqued by the staff of AuthorsTalkAboutIt.com.


Joshua Harding

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Joshua Harding is a novelist and award-winning short story writer. His fiction is featured on Writer’s Digest, QuarterReads, and Acidic Fiction. He’s been a nuclear missile mechanic, an environmental lobbyist, a cemetery restorer, freelance artist, puppet master, set designer, actor, carpenter, mortuary officer, garbage man, you name it. The only thing he’s done longer than any of them is write. He lives in a four-person artists’ colony in the woods north of Chicago.

Learn more at http://jharding71.wix.com/joshuajharding.


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of Red Lakes.


Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

Smaller

 


Authors join our Creative Author Marketing Facebook group

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.30.22 AM

A place to share tips, advice and wisdom about marketing your book. Ask for advice. We’re here for you!

Traveling entrepreneurs, Drs. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D. are mentoring entrepreneurs and authors around the world. As best selling authors, speakers, marketing and branding experts their podcast Authors Talk About It has become quite popular.

We help you develop 3 key things you MUST have to gain success with your book.

Your Mindset
Your Tool Set
Your Skill Set


Have you checked out the 2016 Horror Novel Book Contest yet? Deadline is 9/30/16

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

2016 Horror Book Contest

Whether you’re a first time author or a New York Times Best Seller this book award contest is for you.

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!

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Hellbound: The Tally Man

Today’s Featured Author and Book

Hellbound: The Tally Man

Click to get your copy!

Book Description:

His crimes – unforgivable. His death – inevitable. His suffering – just beginning. 

Obadiah Stark aka The Tally Man, is executed at ADX Absolom, his death sentence watched by the world’s media, victim relatives and one investigative reporter, Joe O Connell. Penning an account of Stark’s personal history and subsequent crimes in the hope of determining what elements make the sociopathic mind tick, Joe discovers clues and inconsistencies which cause him to investigate Stark’s execution. 

While this is happening in the real world, Obadiah Stark awakens to an afterlife where he has a wife and daughter bound to his childhood hometown. Following his natural predatory instinct, Obadiah proceeds to torment the town, committing multiple murders before being gunned down by the police. He awakens to find that everything has reset, with no one recalling his murderous spree a reality which offers no escape. As the scenes repeat, he is forced to submit to emotions he has never experienced before… and with it, a poisonous dose of morality.


 

David McCaffrey

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David McCaffrey lives in Redcar with his wife Kelly and is the proud father of 2 children, 8 year old Jake and new addition to the family baby Liam. In between writing he works as an Infection Prevention and Control Nurse in a local hospital. His wife Kelly is his muse and ardent (but constructive!) critic of his work. His 8 year old son Jake once took some draft pages of his Daddy’s work to school to draw on which prompted the school to become concerned about the books Jake was having read to him!!! The school were relieved when they found out Jake was not being subjected to books such as Hellbound.  Hellbound was David’s debut novel and was voted one of W H Smith’s Most Underrated Crime Novels of 2014 by readers. A short story prequel was released in August  2015 on Kindle with a follow up due for release August 2016. 

Learn more at www.DavidMcCaffrey.net.


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of Hellbound: The Tally Man.


Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle

 

 


Have you checked out the 2016 Book Awards Contest yet?

Book awards give you clout and credibility!

Authors Talk About It Book Award Contest

Whether you’re a first time author or a New York Times Best Seller this book award contest is for you.

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!


Please like & share:

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