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Friday, June 22, 2018

Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life and Death by Ian McKinney [4 stars]



 
From the Description
 
Melville wakes with a pounding headache – there had been too many hangovers recently, but this one felt different. What had he been drinking last night? Then he remembered – it was blood.
Enter the bizarre world of Scouse Gothic where a reluctant vampire mourns a lost love and his past lives, where a retired ‘hit man’ plans one more killing and dreams of food, and a mother sets out to avenge her son’s murder, and, meanwhile, a grieving husband is visited by an angry angel.
Set in present day Liverpool, vampires and mortals co-exist, unaware of each other’s secrets and that their past and present are inextricably linked.
But as their lives converge, who will be expected to atone for past sins?
 
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: YouCaxton Publications
Publication Length: 200 pages
 
I received a copy of this book as part of the Scouse Gothic blog tour. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 
Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life and Death is a character driven dark comedy/horror novel. In the pages of this novel we get to know Melville, a vampire who has fallen off the wagon and his new love interest, Sheryl. Frank, an irreverent angel who appears to Peter, a man grieving the loss of his wife. Latham is a hitman who has to solve the mystery of who double crossed him and why. Last but not least we have Catherine, a woman seeking revenge for the murder of her son. Every time I thought I figured out how these people where connected there was a new twist leading to an ending that left me wanting more. I loved traipsing through Liverpool with Melville, Franks explanation of organized religion had me laughing out loud, and Latham was kind of a badass. This is the first book in the Scouse Gothic series so I’ll be catching up with Melville and the other fascinating denizens of Liverpool soon. A funny and intriguing 4 star read.
 
·        To find out more about Scouse Gothic and Liverpool read Ian McKinney’s fascinating guest post HERE
 
Buy the Book
 
Amazon       Barnes & Noble
 
About the Author
 

 
 
 

Ian was born and bred in Liverpool, as were his parents, and has always been proud to call himself a ‘Scouser’.
Leaving the city in the late 1970’s to study at London University, when Liverpool was city in decline, with boarded up shops and high unemployment.
After qualifying he worked first in Essex and East London before settling in Shropshire with his wife and daughter. Although he often visited the city during the intervening years to visit family and friends, the visits were brief and it was only due to an unusual set of circumstances that he found himself living in the city for a few months.
During this time the idea for ‘SCOUSE GOTHIC’ was born. As he explored the modern city of Liverpool, so changed in the last forty years but also so unchanged in many ways from his childhood. He wondered how it would feel to someone who had known the city when it was in its prime, when it was the largest port in the Empire. However to be able to do that you’d have to be over two hundred years old…or a vampire.
Melville began life as a short story, as did Latham, Catherine and Frank. However as the short stories developed, so did the feeling that the city of Liverpool itself was as much a character as any of the others. The stories were rewritten to place all the characters in the same time and place, and to let them interrelate to one another. In some cases with fatal consequences.
Response to the first book ‘The Pool of Life…and Death’ was so positive that the characters were further explored in ‘Bloodbrothers..and Sisters’ and finally ‘All you need is...Blood.’


Thursday, June 21, 2018

SCOUSE GOTHIC Author’s Post: ‘Family links to Liverpool’s past.’ By Ian McKinney

 
 

Scouse Gothic is a book about a group of vampires and how their present and past lives are linked to the city of Liverpool. We may not be vampires or immortal, but many would be surprised to realise how our own family histories are also connected to the port.
 
Albert Dock and the Liverpool waterfront, world heritage sites
 
Liverpool was granted its Royal Charter in 1207, at the time it was a small port on the River Mersey trading mainly with Ireland. Very little would change for five hundred years until the world’s first ‘wet’ dock was built, and Liverpool was able to accept much larger vessels. These Ocean going ships enabled Liverpool to begin trading with the Americas, Africa and the Far East, and led directly to its dominance of the slave trade. At one point Liverpool’s merchants controlled 40% of the world’s slaving fleet. Very few slaves ever made it to Liverpool itself (although there are records of slaves occasionally being sold in the city) as it formed the hub of what was called the ‘Triangular trade’: goods from British factories were loaded onto ships and taken to Africa where they were exchanged for slaves; African slaves were transported across the Atlantic in those same ships to the Americas and exchanged for tobacco and sugar, which returned to Liverpool to be sold.
 
Albert Dock and the Liverpool waterfront, world heritage sites
 
With the abolition of slavery in Britain and its Empire, Liverpool had to find another source of income, it chose cotton. Once again, its merchants dominated the world market, and its cotton exchange set the price for raw cotton throughout the world. It was this reliance on cotton that caused Liverpool merchants to support the Confederate cause in the American Civil War. Although public opinion was openly Unionist, a small group of traders decided to help the Southern States. Confederate gold was smuggled across the Atlantic and used to purchase weapons in Liverpool. In fact, two of the most successful Confederate Raiders, CSS Alabama, and CSS Florida, were built secretly in the port. It is the construction of the Florida that forms part of the past life of my vampire, Melville.
 
The CSS Florida a Confederate warship built in Liverpool
 
During the rest of the 19th Century, Liverpool was responsible for transporting people looking for a new life to the US and the Empire. Most of the Irish fleeing the potato famine travelled through Liverpool, and many stayed in the city, giving it its distinctive accent. Most of the new immigrants to the US started their journey across the Atlantic from Liverpool, whether they were Irish, Italian or even Russian Jews fleeing persecution, all roads led to Liverpool.
 
 
The first American consulate in the UK was in this Liverpool building. Later a pub called the Eagle, and now a restaurant.
 
From the beginning of the 20th Century, immigration continued, but during both WW1 and WW2, troops from the US and Canada passed through the port on their way to fight in Europe. The convoy system which played such a pivotal role in the rearming and feeding Britain during WW2 was co-ordinated by the Royal Navy from a secret underground bunker in the city centre. Post war Liverpool has been most famous for the Beatles, but it has also been recognised as the European Capital of Culture in 2008, and the historic waterfront buildings, awarded World Heritage Status. Liverpool, like my vampires in Scouse Gothic is neither good nor bad, but also like them its past hides many dark secrets.
However unlikely it may seem, if you closely examined your family tree, you may find a connection to the city. If your forebears were slaves, they may have been transported on a ship from Liverpool. If they emigrated from Europe, they may have passed through Liverpool on their way to the US. If they served in either WW1 or WW2 they may have first landed in Britain at Liverpool Docks.
If you read the stories in the Scouse Gothic trilogy, you may find that you have a personal connection to the characters or can imagine that one of your ancestors may have known the city as my vampires once did.
Perhaps the history of Liverpool is not simply that of a port on the North-West coast of Britain, but the history of us all.
 
 
  Ian McKinney
 
 


Ian was born and bred in Liverpool, as were his parents, and has always been proud to call himself a ‘Scouser’.

Leaving the city in the late 1970’s to study at London University, when Liverpool was city in decline, with boarded up shops and high unemployment.

After qualifying he worked first in Essex and East London before settling in Shropshire with his wife and daughter. Although he often visited the city during the intervening years to visit family and friends, the visits were brief and it was only due to an unusual set of circumstances that he found himself living in the city for a few months.

During this time the idea for ‘SCOUSE GOTHIC’ was born. As he explored the modern city of Liverpool, so changed in the last forty years but also so unchanged in many ways from his childhood. He wondered how it would feel to someone who had known the city when it was in its prime, when it was the largest port in the Empire. However to be able to do that you’d have to be over two hundred years old…or a vampire.

Melville began life as a short story, as did Lathom, Catherine and Frank. However as the short stories developed, so did the feeling that the city of Liverpool itself was as much a character as any of the others. The stories were rewritten to place all the characters in the same time and place, and to let them interrelate to one another. In some cases with fatal consequences.

Response to the first book ‘The Pool of Life…and Death’ was so positive that the characters were further explored in ‘Bloodbrothers..and Sisters’ and finally ‘All you need is...Blood.’


 
 


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Beast Of Brenton Woods by Jackson R. Thomas [4.5 stars]



 
From the Description
 
Some legends never die....
 
The White Wolf, the Beast of Brenton Woods, a legendary creature said to walk like a man. When the full moon rises, it will feast.
 
Unseen for years, truth has turned to rumor, mere folklore. Until something lures the monster from exile, calling it home.
For Tyler and Ben, a firsthand encounter leads to an exploration of the forbidden depths of Brenton woods, and for Ben, the discovery of a family secret.
 
When Wendy and her friend's hangout in the abandoned cabin is compromised, the hunt begins. The target of a creature's desire, Wendy is hearing whispers in the night, finding footprints outside her window, and can't shake the dreadful feeling that something is waiting for her.
 
Deputy Kathy Wilcox understands the disturbances, the shredded carcasses, and the growing list of missing persons in town are connected to something larger than life. Will her acceptance of the legend end in tragedy?
 
There's a full moon above, the night is coming down, and blood is about to run.
 
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Alien Agenda Publishing
Publication Length: 241 pages
 
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 
The Beast of Brenton Woods is a fantastic werewolf story that will leave you panting for more! The heart pounding action starts at the very beginning and doesn’t let up until the very end. This book had me saying ‘Just one more chapter,,,’ until the wee hours of the morning. I had to know what would happen to Ben, Deputy Kathy Wilcox, Wendy, Johnny, and Bryan as they searched for the truth about the Beast. The Beast itself was a great villain, evil and relentless in its pursuit of our heroes. The ending is perfect for this tale of werewolfy goodness and leaves enough room for a sequel that I am salivating for. I can’t wait to see where Jackson Thomas takes us next! A highly recommended 4.5 star read.
 
Buy the Book
 
 
About the Author
 
Jackson R. Thomas sleeps in the day, writes and works in the night, and doesn't like social media.
He's worked as a janitor, cashier, fast food slave, and a night auditor for a hotel you don't want to stay at...if you know what's good for you.
You can contact him at jrthomaswrites@gmail.com, unless you know where he works...then you can bother him during his third shift escapades.
 
Praise
 
"At last! A proper werewolf story. Edge of your seat scary and unpredictable." — Catherine Cavendish, author of 'Waking the Ancients'
 
“The Beast of Brenton Woods is a blistering read of werewolf horror, one that chugs along at lightning speed and will leave you howling at the moon for more.” – Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Broken Shells


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jurassic Florida by Hunter Shea [5 stars]



From the Description
 
FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .
 
IGUANAS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just the babies . . .
 
HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
The mayor wants to address the iguana problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger iguanas. Bigger than a double-wide. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat . . .
 
Publication Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
File Size: 2079 KB
 
I received a free copy of this book from the author. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 
Ah, what could be better than a summer vacation in Florida, the sunshine state? Warm sandy beaches, lazy days sipping tropical drinks by the sea, man-eating lizards crawling out from every crack and crevice,,,, That’s what you get when your vacation comes from the mind of the King of Cryptids, the Curator of Chaos that is Hunter Shea. Jurassic Florida is a fun filled and gory splatter fest of pure B movie goodness. Filled with gruesome deaths and black humor this novella is sure to please anyone who spent their summers glued to the Saturday creature features as a kid. I promise you’ll never look at lizards in the same way again. Jurassic Florida is the first book in the One Size Eats All series and it left me hungry for more! I highly recommend this fast paced and exciting 5 star read.
 
Buy the Book
 
Amazon       Barnes & Noble
 
About the Author
 

 
Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn't just write about the paranormal - he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.
 
Publishers Weekly named THE MONTAUK MONSTER one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, HELL HOLE, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, TORTURES OF THE DAMNED - "A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!"
 
Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.
 
He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D'Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man's land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.
 
Hunter is proud to be one half of the MonsterMen video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane. Hunter is also one of the Final Guys. Weekly horror movie review podcast with your hosts, Jason Brant, Jack Campisi and Hunter Shea. Broadcast live every Tuesday at 7pm ET, Final Guys is your destination for horror movie curation, the latest news and brutally honest reviews. Plus, a new drinking game is revealed each week!
 
Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he's happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray's Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.
 
You can follow his travails at his WEBSITE or find him lurking about on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads
 
Praise
 
“[A] hilarious creature-feature gorefest from pulp horror maven Shea…Twisted humor and campy horror. Those looking for a brain break and a bloody mess with revel in this promising series launch.” —Publishers Weekly on JURASSIC FLORIDA
 
“Old school horror.”  —Jonathan Maberry
 
“Frightening, gripping.” —Night Owl Reviews
 
“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness
 
“Hunter Shea has his own style. It’s simple, yet well-written, stories that flow with ease. Mr. Shea graciously walks you through the adventure and mystery, all the while, tickling the hairs on the nape of your neck and filling the pit of your guts with lead.” –Glenn Rolfe, Author of Chasing Ghosts and The Haunted Halls
 


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Toroa by Erik Hofstatter [4 stars]


 
 
From the Description
 
Infants are vanishing all over Waitangi, a small island nestled in the Pacific Ocean. The local tribe believes a colossal albatross is responsible. Worse still, they are convinced that the seabird had been trained to carry out these sinister kidnappings.
 
On the other side of the globe, in England, a troubled Maori girl falls in love with Aryan — a charismatic fire-breather. As their doomed relationship unfolds, a tragedy strikes, leaving her forever changed. Grieving, she travels to the island in desperate search of her estranged father and seeking answers to her shrouded origins. Will her actions influence the mysterious events occurring on the isle?
 
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Length: 179 pages
 
I received a copy of this book as part of the publicity tour hosted by the always fabulous Erin Al-Mehairi over at Oh, for the Hook of a Book. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 
 
Toroa is a harrowing story. It broke my heart at the same time it was making me cringe with horror. Not an easy thing to do! Erik Hofstatter is very adept at writing characters that your heart bleeds for then ripping your heart out with their horrifying acts. Mahi is a girl whose life takes a turn from bad to worse thanks to her abusive mother. Suffering from a devastating loss she sets out to find her absentee father in New Zealand with horrific consequences leading to an ending that was so twisty it made my head spin. A highly recommended 4 star read.
 
Buy the Book
 
Amazon       Barnes & Noble
 
About the Author
 
 
Erik Hofstatter is a dark fiction writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic, he roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry.
His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. ‘Rare Breeds’ is out now via Dark Silo Press.
You can find out more about Erik on his Website, on Facebook, and on Twitter and GoodReads.
 
Praise
 
"… the emotional tug that The Crabian Heart exerts on the reader is palpable. The Crabian Heart is also a coming-of-age tale, one that resonates with the pangs of unrequited love. And as such, it concludes, like all great coming-of-age stories, with a very difficult and painful realization for the love-struck main character. By the end of its 100 pages you will find yourself both haunted and moved by Hofstatter's evocative writing." – Starburst Magazine
 
"With The Pariahs, Erik Hofstatter has created a stark and chilling vision of a radiation-damaged world and the unfortunate heirs to it. His straightforward, unflinching prose does not shy away from brutality, examining dichotomies of strength and weakness, beauty and ugliness, and the things that truly matter when everything is taken away." – Bram Stoker Finalist author Mary SanGiovanni
 
"These horror stories read like sharp, hard blows to the gut. Grab it and give it a read."  - Bram Stoker Finalist John F.D. Taff on Moribund Tales


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall by C.A. Verstraete [4.5 stars]

 
 
From the Description
 
 
After being acquitted of brutally slaying her parents, Lizzie Borden thinks her nightmare is over—but it’s only just begun!
 
Now Lizzie and the citizens of Fall River must battle a new surge of flesh-eaters, this time with a heartbreaking twist: the infected creatures are friends and family, hidden away by their grief-stricken caregivers.
 
When her sister Emma becomes a pawn in the growing war against the undead, Lizzie has no choice but to pick up her axe again. With the help of her charming self-defense instructor, Pierre, she vows to end the horrific zombie menace, once and for all. But can she overcome her personal demons and the rampaging monsters, no matter the cost?
 
NOTE: The book does contain spoilers if you have not read the first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.
 
“A combination of historical mystery, romance, and zombie mayhem, tied together by the infinitely fun premise that Lizzie Borden had a very good reason to give her father and stepmother forty whacks! Loved the first in this series and the second is just as fun.”—Dana Fredsti, author of the Ashley Parker series.
 
Publication Date: May 14, 2018
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
File Size: 2122 KB
 
Lizzie Borden is back and so are the zombies shambling their way through this fun and engaging book. Lizzie has lost none of her bad-assitude as she deals with the latest zombie outbreak in Fall River. Joined by her former self-defense instructor (and possible love interest) Pierre, Lizzie must figure out who’s behind the outbreak. I loved the way Lizzie’s insecurities, fears and determination make her more real as she tries to solve the mystery, rescue Emma, and fight off the zombie hordes. Filled with exciting and somewhat gruesome action, and an ever deepening mystery that kept me glued to the page until the very end of this well written tale. A fast paced and enchanting 4.5 star read.
 
 
Buy the Book
 
 
About the Author
 
 





Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a little "scare" in her writing. She follows the murder trial and offers a twist on the infamous 1892 Borden murders in her book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. She also looks at the murders from the viewpoint of Lizzie's doctor in her latest, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen. Other books include a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, and books on dollhouse collecting and crafting.

Christine's short stories have appeared in various anthologies including: Descent Into Darkness, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Mystery Weekly, and Timeshares, Steampunk'd, and Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance, DAW Books.

She is an award-winning journalist published in daily to weekly newspapers, and in various magazines. Her stories have received awards from local and national newspaper associations, and the Dog Writer's Association of America.

She is available for signings or appearances, including a PowerPoint presentation on zombies, writing and the history of Lizzie Borden. Visit her website,
http://cverstraete.com or blog, http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com.





You can also follow her on
Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads




Praise for Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter





"... A fun and fast-paced story. I very much enjoyed the different perspective of the circumstances around the murder of Lizzie's parents. The author does a good job of giving the reader historical fiction without ruining the original story or creating an entirely false world. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a cool twist on an old mystery." --Melanie @ FangFreakinTastic Reviews - 4 fangs!



"...Of the other main characters it is Lizzie who stands out as the best one. She is strong willed, but there was also a vulnerability to her character on the many occasions she bites off more than she can chew. ...A good yarn told in a well written and engaging style." --The Rotting Zombie - 7 of 10 zombie heads!



"...The story flows so well and will give you goosebumps... Might make you gag from the epic detail used throughout this book. I am a huge horror fan, so this did not disappoint at all! If you like historical horror, read this! Or Lizzie might hack you next!" --Destiny, NerdGirlOfficial.com



"...The descriptions are excellent, the dialogue is snappy, and Lizzie's character is likable. Overall, I enjoyed reading Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. Well-written and fast-paced with short chapters (not James Patterson short)..." - Highly Recommended, 4 Coffee Cups -- Billy B., Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer​