Top Reads of 2016 (So far).

Wow, how is it July 1st already?

I’ve read some really awesome books in the first half of 2016, and I thought I’d share them with you. Now. there are plenty of books I expect to make this list at  year’s end (Tremblay, Malfi, Shea, and plenty of others have some great works out there or coming soon that I need to read), but these are the best of what I’ve read to date.

Novels

9. THE MONSTER UNDERNEATH– Matthew Franks

This debut from Samhain Publishing author, Matthew Franks, is an interesting psychological mash up of Criminal Minds, The Following, Silence of the Lambs, and something with a mind reader/dream invader. If you want to make a splash out the gate, I guess creating your own concoction that nobody has seen before is a good way to achieve that.    *THIS ONE IS ON SALE for 99 CENTS!

8. THE COMPLEX by Brian Keene

A lot of reviewers (myself included) mentioned how great is to see Keene return to form with this vicious, yet thoughtful horror ride. A gang of possessed people descend upon an apartment complex full of interesting characters. It pays to be on speaking terms with your neighbors! One of Keene’s short story character’s plays a major role in here, an added bonus for BK fans. I’m not sure THE COMPLEX will make my end of the year list, but I’m happy to see him back in any of my top lists.

7. CHILDREN OF THE DARK by Jonathan Janz

Janz delivers another strong effort. This one has him reaching into the coming-of-age bag, pulls out of big, bloody ball,  and bats a solid hit. I’ve seen a lot of praise out there from the Janz-ites, and if you’re a big JJ fan, you will no doubt have this one on your 2016 list. COTD serves as a prequel to Janz’s SAVAGE SPECIES novel and I’m thinking we’re in for more from this universe. Stay tuned!

6. MAYAN BLUE by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason

Remember what I said about creating your own concoction to make that initial impact? Well, the “Sisters of Slaughter” have done just that. MAYAN BLUE has a very original story (Mayan ruins/artifacts in Georgia?) and showcases their unabashed taste in writing some pretty vicious scenes. I mentioned in my review how their style had me thinking back to Brian Keene’s original Leisure Books run. I stand by that statement.

5. THEY RISE by Hunter Shea

Hunter writes like he’s making these crazy horror/action movies. It’s perfect for that hungry horror bookworm who wants something good that reads like a match set to gasoline. This one has a lot of JAWS-like sensibilities which, I’m sure, suits Mr. Shea just fine. A great monster fish long thought extinct resurfaces and in numbers that would scare the bejesus out of any seaman…

4. PRINCE OF NIGHTMARES by John McNee

This is a haunted hotel story that reads like something hidden in Clive Barkers steamer trunk. The writing is smooth and exciting, and the story  is just about perfect. The evil creations McNee uses and the horrifying sights they show the guests in this ghost attraction hotel are top notch and scary. I really loved this book.

3. NORTHWOODS by Bill Schweigart

This book is a sequel to a novel I have never read (Beast of Baycroft). That being said, I had no trouble following along with the characters or their situations. A great sequel stands alone. Schweigart nails that model here in spades. I had a lot of fun reading this one and will go back and find the first book before Christmas.  If you like shapeshifters, cryptozoology, and action, you will love this! (Writing-wise, he could be Hunter Shea’s twin brother!)    *AND this one is on sale for 99 cents !

2. DESOLATION by Kristopher Rufty

Definitely a contender for my Top 5 at the end of the year, Rufty’s DESOLATION really hit me in the guts. With the most heart-wrenching opening I’ve read in years, this novel dares to go straight for your soft spot. There’s revenge, there’s right and wrong, there’s a family trying to keep itself together while trying to avoid being chopped to bits…it’s pretty freaking great.  I loved this one. You should make time for it, too   And, if you act now, you can get the paperback version from Amazon for just $7.23!

1. MONGRELS by Stephen Graham Jones

I LOVED this book!  Sounds like I’ve had a pretty good 2016 in the reading world, right? Yes, I have, and MONGRELS tops the list. SGJ writes this book like he has some sort of inside information on werewolves that the rest of us don’t. It’s not a fast and furious werewolf blood bath like Janz’s WOLF LAND (or that book that I wrote), but what it is is SOOO MUCH better. Not to kick any of the werewolf novels that came before it in the nuts, but I truly believe Mr. Jones is in or knows a real wolf pack. This is just a wonderful piece of literature wearing a horror jacket and being really fucking cool. The story of a werewolf family and the challenges they face trying to stay under the radar in the world around them, and a boy waiting to see if he’s ever going to change. A really wonderful book and one that should make everyone’s Top 10 of 2016.

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I’ll drop a few novellas and a collection that I really enjoyed here. Check out:

WOMAN IN WHITE by Kristin Dearborn

VICKI BEAUTIFUL by Somer Canon

THE WINTER BOX by Tim Waggoner

and FLESH AND FIRE by Lucas Mangum

(Mangum’s is part of Journal Stone’s double down collection, and is paired with a new Jonathan Maberry piece-BONUS!)

And don’t miss A MIXED BAG OF BLOOD by David Bernstein, a fantastic and imaginative collection of perfect horror.

 

To see all the books I’ve read so far this year, go check out GLENN’s GOOD READS CHALLENGE  (I will add this link later-my computer is acting fruity)

 

CHEERS!

-GR

 

 

(Review) A Mixed Bag of Blood by David Bernstein

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(Review) A Mixed Bag of Blood by David Bernstein

First, let’s begin with a bit about David Bernstein. This guy is one of the busiest, most prolific writers in the horror biz. That could mean that he’s shoveling out every crazy idea he can think of and half-assing his work, or….the guy is just an absolute writing machine. I choose to believe the latter. I’m still acquainting myself with Bernstein’s ever-growing catalog. I’ve read Relic of Death, Apartment 7C, and my favorite thus far, Goblins. All were quality works with Goblins making my top ten of 2015.

He’s got a one of a kind imagination. I mean this guy writes without fear. He tackles anything that his brain conjures up and does so full-on. His characters are instantly real. Their situations, no matter how far-fetched, become our problems.

With his latest release, the short story collection, A Mixed Bag of Blood (Sinister Grin Press, 2016), Bernstein is hitting on all cylinders and ready to take you for the grand tour through his mind of terrors. I’ll give you a rundown on each piece, but whether I give the story a 3 or 5 star rating, know that each and every one had me along for the ride within the first page. That’s a sign of a truly gifted storyteller.

Count me in on the David Bernstein Horror Express!

Next stop: A Mixed Bag of Blood.

If Kristopher Rufty’s forward doesn’t get you psyched up to read these tales, I don’t know what will!

“The Trojan Plushy”

This story has a deep-cutting set-up (not too different from Rufty’s fantastic Desolation), but Bernstein does take it in his own devilish direction. A stuffy that really wolf’s out in an act of revenge.

I liked this one, but it felt a bit rushed and the end came too fast for me. Definitely would’ve had potential as a novella.  3.5 stars

“The Booglin”

Okay, this one is crazy, but… Remember what I said about real characters and far-fetched situations that become our problems? Yeah, this one is that. Bernstein’s descriptions cause me to hold my nose as if the pain was happening to me. I did that several times while reading this one. He also gives us a fun little explanation on how the “Booglin” came into existence.

Loved it. 5 stars.

“Eaten Un-Alive”

“Zombies were the vampires’ cockroach.”

Loved that line. In this tale, we follow Remington, a vampire trying to survive after the zombie apocalypse. Right there! That’s an awesome idea and fantastic set-up. Remington finds his way to a house and he hopes to his first good meal in weeks.  I won’t spoil it for you. It has an ending that reminded me of one of my stories from Slush. This…is a good thing.

Loved this one. 5 stars

“It’s Not Nice to Have to Share”

I figured out what was going on pretty much at the start of this one. How close can two sisters be? You’ll see. Again, Bernstein presents a tale only his mind could fathom.

I thought it was a great character piece. 4 stars.

“Invasion”

This one really centers on a bad seed named, Timmy. He’s not a nice kid. He deserves all that he gets. That’s all I’m saying.

Liked it, but it felt like it should have been bigger. 4 stars.

“Samurai Zombie Killer”

Wow! Can I give it more than 5 stars????  No, but I would. We get Kenji and his evil brother Makito. We get a great Japanese setting. Samurai action and zombies? I’ve never been a zombie fan, but David knows that in order to make this sub-genre work, you have to put in the extra work to keep it fresh and  engaging. This one succeeds in spades.

Loved it. 5 stars.

“Small Town, Big Trouble”

Another fantastic idea executed perfectly. This one involves a town,  its curse, and a heck of an ending! I don’t wanna give anything away.

Loved it. 5 stars.

“Bad Cutlery”

A haunted knife purchased from a yard sale.

This one is short and just okay to me. 3 stars.

“Potty Mouth”

Another one of David’s crazy ideas that he still manages to pull you into. An 18 year-old son’s usage of foul language gets him in the shithouse…..he, he, he. His witch of a mother has a lesson to teach him. Will he learn? Read and find out.

A little too gross for my taste, but great if you don’t mind some nastiness. 3.5 stars

“STD”

A one-night stand leaves a guy with an unexpected gift. You’ve heard and read it a million times, right? Not like this! Loved the beginning, kind of wavered in the middle, but the ending…oh, man. So good!

Really enjoyed it. 4.5 stars

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection. It definitely made me want to read more from Bernstein. If he writes another collection, I will be the first in line.

I give A Mixed Bag of Blood 4 very strong stars!

 

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A Mixed Bag of Blood synopsis

  • Print Length: 86 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2016

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

Biography of David Bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

 

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood

 

“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you’ll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark
Praise for David Bernstein

 

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

 

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

Add to GoodReads

Purchase Links

Amazon

Check out Sinister Grin Press

 

The “Wolf Pack” is Alive!

Arrrooooooo!!!! It’s a full moon tonight and Samhain Horror has a great deal for you eBook lovers. Get the “Wolf Pack” bundle at a 30% discount. Jonathan Janz Wolf Land and my Blood and Rain made a bunch of Horror Top Ten Lists and W.D. Gagliani has been at the head of the pack since the Leisure Books days! Get all three of our latest Wolf Man books for one great price! Limited time offer and available exclusively from the Samhain Horror store. I feel a real howling coming on!
Click the picture below, click on Bundle and get ready to get beastly!

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My Review of Hunter Shea’s Latest, The Dover Demon!

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Hunter Shea takes on the Dover Demon. This crytid was seen in Massachusetts and hasn’t been documented as much as some of the others in its cryptozoology family like the Jersey Devil or the Mothman. This opens up the doors for Shea to create his own story of who or what the Dover Demon is.

Four friends (Sam, Chris, Kelly, and Stephanie) driving home from a movie in 1977 come upon a creature in the road. What they witness alters their paths forever. Fast forward to present day. We find one friend, Kelly, has refused to let that night go. The others have moved on, sort of. When Sam’s son, Nicky, goes out in search of the hometown cryptid, he and his friend find far more than the set out to discover. The Dover Demon is real…and it is far from alone.

There’s so much to love about this book. Having spoken to the author on a number of occasions, I know he’s had an “extra-terrestrial” experience in his past. He wasn’t taken and probed (as far as he knows), but he and some friends witnessed a UFO in the sky. I know that personal piece is the starting point of Mr. Shea’s The Dover Demon.

Having a love for alien-type tales myself, I got caught up in the story instantly. Shea is also extremely good at creating characters for you to latch onto quickly. Sam and Nicky’s life take a hit early on in this one without any help from Sam’s past brush with the Demon. When Sam comes home to find his wife…man, I was through the roof with him.

The story takes a sharp turn into the Demon’s world (below the ground) and winds you through a hazy, round and round maze that sent me totally off balance.

When the answers start to come through and you see the bigger picture, the story reaches its potential.  A fantastic conclusion.

Outside of being a little confused in the midst of the underground runaround, I found The Dover Demon to be an enjoyable experience. Another fun one from Hunter Shea.

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Follow along the tour using the hashtags #TheDoverDemon #HunterSheaLovesCryptids #Monsters #Cryptozoology #cryptids

Dover Demon tour logo

A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon.

Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link: http://huntershea.com/2015/08/30/the-dover-demon-raises-his-round-little-head-cryptid-novel-release-day/

The Dover Demon, Synopsis~

  • File Size:1032 KB
  • Print Length:242 pages
  • Publisher:Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date:September 1, 2015

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Purchase~

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Dover-Demon-Hunter-Shea/dp/1619230976/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1442958162&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dover-demon-hunter-shea/1121969552?ean=9781619230972

Samhain

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5560/the-dover-demon

Praise for Hunter Shea~

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

 

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

 

Hunter Shea Biography~

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk MonsterTortures of the Damned, Sinister EntityForest of ShadowsSwamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal,  and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men 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.

He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaways~

On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIx/?

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