Category Archives: Reviews

DARK DISCUSSIONS pays tribute to George Romero

Dark Discussions Mast_Episode297

Montage by Philip Perron

Dark Discussions pays tribute to George Romero in the wake of his passing. We discuss his life, his work, and the controversies that sometimes surrounded him, and some of our thoughts might surprise you! You can listen in on Stitcher, iTunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_297.html

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Volcano, by Yvonne Weekes

Volcano Cover

I couldn’t put this down. Beautifully written and wrought with an overwhelming sadness, Weekes’ memoir about Soufriere Hills, a dormant volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat which roared to life in 1995, packs much into few pages.

If you’re looking for Read the rest of this entry

VISIT SUNNY CHERNOBYL: Vivid, entertaining, witty

 

Visit Sunny Chernobyl Cover

Visit Sunny Chernobyl, by Andrew Blackwell/320 pages/Rodale Books, 2013

Visit Sunny Chernobyl isn’t what I expected. This vividly-written, highly entertaining, and occasionally witty narrative is not a rant about the dirtiest places in our world and how we’ve destroyed (or are destroying) our environment, but rather an exploration of the dirtiest places of our world and what it’s like to be there, live there, and breathe there. This isn’t a book that passes judgment; this is a book that lets you see things through Blackwell’s eyes and make up your own mind.

For those of us who like to armchair travel, Read the rest of this entry

Russell’s SEA OF TREES is a sea of problems

RUSSELL'S SEA OF TREES COVER

Where this book excels is in the vignettes of those who suicided in Aokigahara Jukai forest: we see the last moments of these people’s lives in chilling, haunting portraiture. Similarly, the world of the forest is brought to life; the writing itself is clear, yet peppered with poignant phrasing. The first person present-tense is sound and is a good match for this type of piece. The tension between the two characters is fantastic, as there is push and pull but neither gets what’s desired. It’s also an easy read (although the lack of commas where there should’ve been drove me crazy; I’m not sure if this was an editing fail or if it’s some style I’m not familiar with).

Despite all of that, however, I’d only be able to recommend Sea of Trees to those who are deeply interested in the forest.

Although the stories of those who suicided Read the rest of this entry

Shed light on scary movies with REVIEWS FROM THE SHADOWS

Reviews from the Shadows Logo

Craft and subtlety exist in both good and bad horror movies! On the new Reviews from the Shadows podcast, the Paranormal Eh? Radio Network’s Terry Konig and I talk story (strong or not!) and bring those little things you might have missed to light in two horror movies each month.

You can listen in on the first three episodes of Season 1 below! Read the rest of this entry

UP ALL NIGHT gives THIS POISONED GROUND a rave!

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It’s always nice to get surprised. Up All Night Horror Fiction Review gave “This Poisoned Ground” a great review. You can read it here: http://www.upallnighthorrorfictionreview.com/up-all-night-horror-fiction-review/this-poisoned-ground-by-kristi-petersen-schoonover

Still haven’t picked up your copy? It’s available from Dark Alley Press at the following links:

All E-formats, direct from publisher

Kindle

THE SMOKING POET: BAD APPLE sends “shiver of delightful creepiness up and down the spine”; interview sheds light on book’s real locations

Smoking Poet Logo

The Smoking Poet, which published my short story “Incident at Dark Acres” in its Winter 2010-2011 Issue #17, has given Bad Apple Read the rest of this entry

Reviewers open ‘CANOPIC JARS,’ find fresh scares

Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification

Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification—the anthology from Great Old Ones Publishing which includes my newest short story “Jarring Lucas”—is available and has, so far, met with positive Read the rest of this entry

Review: Deck Z: The Titanic: Unsinkable. Undead

Deck Z: The Titanic: Unsinkable. Undead
Deck Z: The Titanic: Unsinkable. Undead by Chris Pauls
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are only so many things that can be done with the zombie concept as we know it. In Deck Z, you’ll find the typical zombie-plague tropes in play (even though I found the connection to a strain of the Bubonic Plague grounded it a bit better in reality), so if you’re looking for something more original in that department, this story probably isn’t for you. However, if you don’t mind that and you like fast-moving action adventure tales set against a historical backdrop, then pick this one up.

There aren’t many super-gory moments in this novel, but each of those is so cleanly-rendered it’s toe-curling. There is one paragraph in particular to which I vocally reacted. I wish all writers of gore knew how to do it as well.

For Titanic buffs there is good news, as therein is where the novel excels: the details of what we know happened on the ship’s maiden voyage and during the disaster—the first use of S.O.S., Ismay’s cowardly escape, and the musicians playing to the very end among them—are warped to fit this revisionist version seamlessly (we buy, for example, that the real reason the ship was steaming toward New York at excessive speed is because of the zombie threat). This Titanic lover had a ball waiting to see when next history and legend would be expertly manipulated to fit the plot.

If you like atmospheric, enigmatic slower burns, then Deck Z probably won’t meet your expectations. This book is plot-driven, written in the style of those great 1970s action-adventure tales, like The Word, Ghost Boat, The Island, and others. There are thuds at the end of every chapter, and we are given just enough about the characters to get us through the story—only what we need to know. I had reached the end of the ride before I knew it.

This novel didn’t get a five due to poor editing. First, the book is set in past-tense, and yet flashback scenes are not written in the pluperfect. This marred the immersion—I found myself wielding a red pen for most of the read. Second, there were a couple of spots in which both a question mark and an exclamation point were used at the end of dialogue, like this: “done!?” In my experience, double punctuation is a mistake made by the less experienced. Given today’s competitive climate, I was surprised to find these errors in something issued from a large publishing house. In the future, if I come across another Chronicle Book title I’m interested in, I will spend more time thumbing through to check for better grammar before I buy it.

Still, I’d recommend Deck Z if you’re looking for a light, fun read, you enjoy action-adventure and zombies, and/or you’re a Titanic aficionado. I liked it enough that it’ll go on my “books I’d buy for gifts” list. I just might have to fix all the grammar errors with my red pen first.

View all my reviews

Review: Eerie Britain is a Premiere Introduction for the Unfamiliar

Non-fiction paranormal books are my guilty pleasure—they’re always light fare, an escape, and usually inspire a short story or two. Therefore, I look for books on paranormal subjects about which I know little or nothing; unfortunately, not knowing the material means it’s easier for me to be turned off by the sometimes seemingly-scantily researched, poorly-written or flat-out boring. MB Forde’s Eerie Britain: Ten of Britain’s Most Terrifying and Peculiar Real-Life Stories, thankfully, fits none of these descriptions—and, in fact, I’d recommend it as the top primer to anyone unfamiliar withBritain’s scariest legends.

First, the text is definitely well-researched; incidents from the past are taken from direct accounts. The writer also provides a list of recommended reading and web resources at the end of the book, so I went on to do more research on two of the book’s cases I found most fascinating. Second, the style is not only easy to read, it’s linear and gripping; each case starts at Point A and ends at Point Z, providing a clear overview of the case’s origin, its repeated occurrences, and where the theories surrounding it stand today. Third, it was thoroughly entertaining—this is not, at all, what I would call “dry”—and, in fact, there were a couple of sections which honestly gave me the chills; the descriptions are vivid enough that, at times, I felt as though I was reading a good fiction.

If there were two negative things I’d say about this book, it’s that the punctuation is never inside the quotation marks, as it should be. As a writer, I was totally annoyed to the point of distraction by that. In addition, there were some poorly-constructed sentences (to the point at which I didn’t know what he was trying to say), and Chapter 5, in particular, was loaded with improper use of semi-colons and commas as well as typos. The second is that, although, as I said, I can tell it is well-researched, the citations should have been footnoted with the specifics on where to locate the original material.

Despite all of that, the book is honestly a worthwhile read. It grabbed my attention and held it, and because I entered knowing nothing about any ofBritain’s paranormal legends, I got my money’s worth.

You can purchase Eerie Britain for your Kindle here: http://amzn.com/B006J5LVJY

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