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review 2016-09-09 00:00
Something Different
Something Different - S.A. Reid,T. Baggins One of the most realistic romances I've read so far. Even if it's a rentboy story that enters fairy land at the end. And although it could use a few more pages to sufficiently tackle all the conflicts, and to delve deeper into character development; a lot of blanks here have to be filled by the reader.
(I admit, it certainly helps my enjoyment that S.A. Reid and I apparently share a taste in men.)
But I never felt that S.A. Reid was aiming for drama for drama's sake and the characters felt real. Michael's a prick, a cheat, and a liar; he's also a man trapped in a marriage that's unsatisfying for both partners. It excuses nothing, but explains a lot. I just wish Reid had spent a bit more time on showing how Michael grew from totally repressed to confident. James has his insercurities and fears too, and it takes the men some time to grow together.
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text 2015-09-19 19:31
Mark Allan Gunnells talks perspective.

Mark Allan Gunnells has a great perspective on horror... his own. I gave him an opportunity to write a guest blog  featuring how he makes horror different. That blog follows.


Mark writes:

 

 

 FAMILIAR SEEN THROUGH UNFAMILIAR EYES

By Mark Allan Gunnells

 

As a horror fan, you could say I’m a traditionalist.

 

Not that I don’t appreciate and enjoy stories that are experimental, unique, and shocking.  I love it when a book or film surprises me, taking me to places I haven’t been before.  However, I find myself always going back to the classic structures—the haunting, the vampire, the zombie, the werewolf, the serial killer.  It may sound counterintuitive, but there’s a certain level of comfort in a familiar framework.  There can still be surprises and unexpected twists within that framework, but I love the traditional archetypes and storylines.

 

This carries over to my own writing.  I’m always looking for new and original ideas, but truth be told, the allure of the classic tropes and monsters has a strong attraction for me and keeps me coming back.  Instead of resisting this pull, I give into it, diving into the familiar waters with abandon and joy.

 

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I simply want to recreate what has already been done before.  I always want to redefine and take new and exciting paths into familiar territory.  In other words, I want to find untraditional ways to explore the traditional.

 

The best way for me to explain this will be to give a specific example.  In this case, my zombie novella Asylum will serve quite nicely.  While I love zombie tales that find imaginative ways of reinventing the monster (and in fact I’m currently writing a zombie novella with Aaron Dries that takes a very different approach to the zombie), I was not interested in reinvention or innovation of the zombie with Asylum.  In fact, I wanted to make my undead in the classic Romero image.  Even the structure—a motley crew of survivors hold up in a building while the zombie hordes try to get in at them—was familiar.  This way, the reader would instantly recognize the type of story they were stepping into.

 

Of course, I still wanted to surprise the readers and give them a new perspective on the traditional zombie tale.  And I decided to do this through character.

 

Keep in mind Asylum was written before The Walking Dead, and at the time I had never encountered a gay character in any zombie movie or zombie fiction.  No matter what the gathering of disparate survivors, gay people didn’t make the cut.  It started to seem glaring to me, and I thought, Why not create a zombie tale where the entire cast of characters are gay?

 

So my group of survivors became a collection of gay men (and one token straight woman) trapped in an afterhours gay club by the undead.  So while the monsters were traditional and the setup was familiar, I gave the readers characters they were not used to seeing in this type of story.  My hope being that it would make the familiar trope feel suddenly fresh seen through new eyes.

 

And judging from the reader reaction, I feel like perhaps I succeeded.  Readers seemed to appreciate the new voices and perspectives housed within a very traditional zombie structure.  I received much feedback to this effect, and it thrilled me to no end.  It told me that I could in fact explore familiar tropes and archetypes while still giving the reader something distinctive and fresh.

 

That’s a goal I’ve tried to achieve with many of my other books.  Sequel, for instance, is a serial killer novel that is meant to pay homage to the slasher films I grew up on. Therefore I purposefully tried to fill it with recognizable moments and situations that would be easily identifiable to an audience, but I peopled the story with characters that weren’t so typical.  Not just gay characters, but some that would initially seem like the stereotypical one-note characters you might get in a low-grade slasher flick but then hopefully surprise readers with the revelation of unexpected layers of depth.  The Quarry is a creature feature, October Roses a possession tale, The Summer of Winters a coming of age mystery, Outcast a book about witches, Whisonant a ghost story, Creatures of the Light a post-apocalyptic tale, Locked Room Misery a locked room mystery—all traditional and classic story types, but with my nontraditional and unexpected characters.  

 

All writers work differently and have their own individual arsenal of tricks, but for me I love to tweak conventional horror tropes not through crazy plot twists but with characters that are not often represented in that particular type of fiction.  It sounds like such a simple thing, but it can have a huge impact on the story and on the reader.

 

   
I hope you enjoyed Mark's post.

 

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review 2015-09-06 15:43
Immure Spirits by Mark Allan Gunnells (Review)
Immure Spirits - Mark Allan Gunnells

Synopsis:

 

A man who would do anything for his wife…

THE SPIRITS

A woman who would sacrifice anything to survive the apocalypse…

ARE COMING

A teen who would do anything to get back at his tormentors…

FOR YOU

All of these and more await you in IMMURE SPIRITS. 

Do you dare wake them?

Featuring seven never-before-collected stories, ALL profits from this collection will be donated to the Born This Way Foundation.


https://bornthiswayfoundation.org


My Review:

 

 

Mark Allan Gunnells' Immure Spirits is a great collection of short stories most of which share a centralized theme. That theme is changing perspective. I will say that this collection, as a whole, shows its readers the width of Mark's writing ability and I think I was pleasantly surprised by the stories within, each horrific in their own way and Mark gave me that Aha moment, as he flips the switch in each of them. If you are a fan of quality writing, or a horror reader, pick this up. There is something in this collection for everyone. My personal favorite was Caged. I'm a dog lover and loved the ending of this one. 
But, each of them is a nice experience in changing perspective and the collection is a welcome addition to every reader's bookshelf. 

This book actually was more than just a simple read for me. Its reopened my eyes to changed perceptions. That is a lesson that everyone can learn a little about.

I think that it is also important to note that proceeds from purchases of this book will go to charity. So, check it out. Even if you don't ever read the book, you will be helping others with your purchase. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I think that there are far worse things you could spend a buck on.

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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review 2015-06-02 13:36
(Review) Coyote by Michael McBride
The Coyote - Michael McBride

Synopsis:

 

The new novel of suspense from the category bestselling author of Burial Ground and Vector Borne!

They’re the perfect victims.

Arizona shares nearly four hundred miles of international border with Mexico, thirty-six of which are completely unfortified. On one side lies desperation; on the other, opportunity.

There’s no record of their destinations.

Tens of thousands of undocumented aliens pass through these thirty-six miles every year, only to find one of the harshest and most inhospitable deserts on the planet waiting for them.

No one knows where to look when they disappear.

Hundreds die walking, casualties of the merciless sun, their bodies never to be identified. Others simply set out across the red Sonoran sands and vanish into thin air.

It’s as though they never existed at all.

Special Agent Lukas Walker is assigned to investigate a murder, the only evidence of which is a twenty-foot design painted on a rock formation in the victim’s blood. He quickly learns that if the heat doesn’t get you…

The Coyote will.
 

 

My review: 

 

In his book, Coyote, McBride takes us inside an Indian reservation. There is a serial killer preying on coyote (not the Wile E. kind, but illegals muling drugs into the country under cover of night). A Native American federal agent, Lukas Walker, is sent to investigate and realizes he has ties within the community. The killer leaves bloody paintings on the cliff walls as the only sign of his being their and then he vanishes without a trace. Lukas needs to solve this riddle and catch this killer before more wind up dead.

 

McBride proves yet again why he is an author that everyone should be reading. The level of research he puts into novels is without compare. Coyote is hot, arid, and dusty. It is a well written departure from the horror I have come to expect from McBride. It is more police procedural. This isn't a disappointment, just something unexpected. The characters are well developed and very solid. The story chugs along at a lightning pace and keeps the reader involved. I would definitely recommend this title to someone who enjoys good books and isn't unwillingly to let genre decide what they read.

 

Another solid story from McBride.

 

I was given a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

 

Pick it up here.

 

 

 

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review 2015-02-26 00:00
A Little Something Different
A Little Something Different - Sandy Hall this is my kind of read when i just want to relax. read this for like three hours coz it is a fun read. Sandy Hall did a great job writing this witty and cute and adorable story of Gabe and Lea who's in like with each other. Just the light feels that will make you swoon and smile as you hear from different POV who are shippers of Gabe and Lea. I feel them coz I've been an avid shipper of different couples too. And guess what, I'm the new recruit. I already shipped them too. And my favorite part: the bench and the squirrel's POV. That was unexpected but it is the cutest thing; to hear from the bench and the squirrel. two thumbs up!!! a must must read :)
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