#BlogTour We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

 Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk.

About the Author

Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors,and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year compilation.

During the day, Brian works as afreelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him astrong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging mediatrends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.

Follow @Brian_Kirk on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon,Visit briankirkblog.com

About the book

When a troubled psychiatrist loses funding to perform clinical trials on an experimental cure for schizophrenia, he begins testing it on his asylum’s criminally insane, triggering aseries of side effects that opens the mind of his hospital’s most dangerous patient, setting his inner demons free.

Review

The story is set in an alternative treatment facility with a main character who isn’t exactly likeable. There isn’t really a lot that distinguishes Dr Alex Drexler from other doctors or scientists who have tortured and played with human life in the name of medicine and science. In the name of discovering a cure for humanity. To do that others have to become a victim to research.

‘Without trust patients resist treatment’

Ain’t that the truth. But how can you trust someone who wants to ride the wave of your fears, your deepest memories and pain to then dress themselves in accolades when they ‘heal’ you. Hear the cynicism? Well it certainly flows freely in this story.

It’s an interesting premise, but if you want to move the boundaries, push and speculate – then do it with complete abandonment. Don’t go halfway and then serve up sanctimonious kindness and love cures all mantras. If you’re going to hit a ride on the crazy train and pull the plug on sanity – do it.

It’s speculative fiction with a tinge of horror. It’s an invitation to fly over the cuckoo’s nest. To explore insanity as a construct, perhaps even a parallel consciousness, as opposed to something to cure and to be freed from.

Just as psychopathy might be accepted as a trait in the future, perhaps mental health disorders will fall into the same category one day. The norm is determined by society, as is the abnormal, perhaps those categories will expand and change as we evolve.

Kirk has some interesting ideas, which could do with a little more clarity at times, but then I think that’s not in keeping with his go with the flow and where the process takes you kind of style.

Buy We Are Monsters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 23 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Guardian by J.D. Moyer

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Guardian, the second book in the Reclaimed Earth series, by J.D. Moyer. It’s sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and speculative fiction.

About the Author

J.D. Moyer lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, daughter,and mystery-breed dog. He writes science fiction, produces electronic music in two groups (Jondi & Spesh and Momu), runs a record label (Loöq Records), and blogs at jdmoyer.com. His previous occupations include dolphin cognition researcher, martial arts instructor, Renaissance Faire actor, dance music event promoter, and DJ.

His favorite authors include Iain Banks, Octavia Butler, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and David Mitchell.

His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The InterGalactic Medicine Show, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, and Compelling Science Fiction. His novelette The Icelandic Cure won the 2016 Omnidawn Fabulist Fiction contest. His debut science fiction novel The Sky Woman was published by Flame Tree Press in 2018.

Recurring themes in his fiction include genetic engineering, the sociological effects of climate change, virtualized consciousness,and evolutionary divergence.

Follow @johndavidmoyer on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit jdmoyer.comBuy The Guardian

About the book

The Guardian, the sequel to the The Sky Woman, is a story of colliding worlds and the contested repopulation of a wild Earth. Tem really struggles as the only brown-skinned child in the village. His mother Car-En decides that the family should spend some time on the Stanford ringstation, but Tem gets caught up in the battle against Umana, the tentacle-enhanced ‘Squid Woman’, while protecting a secret that could change the course of civilization.

Review

This is the second book in the Reclaimed Earth series. The Guardian and The Sky Woman can both be read as standalone novels.

After catastrophic events decimated the population of Earth the post-apocalyptic world is now inhabited predominantly by two groups, those who live on earth and those who live in the sky, the ringstation inhabitants.

The groups on earth appear to have devolved into more of tribal driven life, whereas the ringstations appear to be the silent scientific observer, who choose to intervene when it suits them. Never the twain shall meet is the general consensus of the two groups, which puts Tem in a peculiar position because he belongs to both groups. His father is part of the earth dwellers and his mother is an ex-ringstation dweller.

Said mother decides it is time for Tem to get to know life in the ringstation, which is when the action starts. An old enemy steps back into Car-En’s life and it turns out he once again has an ulterior motive. There is a reason Car-En has been hiding from him for a decade.

The title of the book doesn’t seem to have a connection to the story, however I do have a theory on that. Keeping in mind that book three is in the works – I think this book was a way of introducing Tem as said Guardian. His role as someone who belongs to both groups and can successfully navigate either one will probably become poignant as we move into the next part of the story. I look forward to finding out.

It’s sci-fi, post-apocalyptic and speculative fiction. Moyer melds the more complex aspects of the story with good ol’ riveting storytelling. Which I find quite important, because many authors make the mistake of creating a level of complexity that is so dense and unforgivably pretentious the reader loses interest. Moyer balances both exactly right.

Buy The Guardian at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 26 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour One by One by D.W. Gillespie

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour One by One by D.W. Gillespie.

About the Author

A long time fan of all things dark and spooky, D.W. Gillespie began writing monstrous stories while still in grade school. At one point, his mother asked the doctor if there was anything she should be concerned about, and he assured her that some kids just like stories about decapitations.

He’s been writing on and off for over a decade, quietly building a body of work that includes horror and dark sci-fi. His novels include Still Dark, The Toy Thief, and a short story collection titled Handmade Monsters.

He lives in Tennessee with his wife and two kids, all three of which give him an endless supply of things to write about.

Follow @dw_gillespie @flametreepress on Twitter, on Goodreadson AmazonBuy One by One

About the book

The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child’s drawing of a family just like hers.

Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child’s drawing with a dark black X. It’s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim.

Review

Gillespie likes to play with his readers, entice them into a game of cat and mouse. He creates a steady increase of tension as the plot evolves from a simple house move to a frightening horror scenario.

The Easton family all have quite different reactions to moving into the rundown house they intend to restore back to its full potential. Young Alice can’t wait to explore the house, but excitement turns to confusion and then fear when she discovers something creepy on one of the walls in the house.

Let’s talk about the evolution of Alice as a person and a character. The way she starts out as a timid little girl, who is left the last one standing, but ends up finding her inner strength. She overcomes her fears to protect her family and herself by facing the unknown and the mysterious

This is a lot more structured and finely plotted than the first book I read by this author, The Toy Thief (also a good read). There is a lot more emphasis on the surroundings, the atmosphere and the details that enhance the story and the characters.

It’s a tense mystery with a horror vibe, a read driven by suspense, expectation and the unknown. I think Gillespie is just getting started. He is honing his skills as an author, which is certainly evident in this story.

Buy One by One at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 26 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie.

#BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz. It’s a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy.

About the Author

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.”The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin,” reminiscent of ShirleyJackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

Since then Jonathan’s work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith,and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species,and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz’s Shadow Side.

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklistand was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School

Library Journal,and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.

Jonathan’s primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children,and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true.

Follow @JonathanJanz and @flametreepress on Twitter, Follow Janz On Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jonathanjanz.com

Buy Dust DevilsAbout the book

It is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico and Cody Wilson and Willet Black are bent on revenge after their loved ones are slaughtered by a group of traveling actors, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against.

For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.

Review

Janz has been making a name for himself in the horror genre. It’s fair to say he tries to mix it up and redefine it by combining old favourites and modern ideas. This time it’s a western meets paranormal fantasy extravaganza.

The relationship between Cody and Willet is one of the highlights of the book. The two of them bond over the fact the vampires have taken loved ones from them. Cody becomes almost paternal towards Willet, perhaps the boy represents the future he has lost.

Some of the scenes are quite graphic, especially the violent and sexual ones. Janz can be a bit of a shock jock at times. A bit of a ‘let me lull you with the intricately woven relationships and my writing, then when you least expect it a wet kipper will whack you round the face’ kind of storyteller. The violence or the more graphic details creates a sense of unease and keeps the reader on their toes, which I think is intentional. Janz doesn’t want his readers getting too comfortable.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think readers who know Janz are aware of his style and hey the genre is known for being extreme and bending the boundaries. I think there has to be a nice balance, so it doesn’t appear to be gratuitous. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to the sexual element.

It’s a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy. Cowboys vs Vampires, which is far more politically correct and results in some interesting scenarios. It’s a blood-drenched read.

What I can say without a doubt is that Janz enjoys evoking a strong emotional response in readers, regardless of whether they are feeling sympathy, disgust or anger.

Buy Dust Devils at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 27 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Flame Tree.

Read my review of The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz.

#BlogTour Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea. It’s horror meets western and and a wee bit of historical fiction.About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of over20 books, with a specialization in cryptozoological horror that includes The Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon,Loch Ness Revenge and many others. His novel The Montauk Monster, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum will find several of his cryptid books among the fascinating displays. Living in a true haunted house inspired his Jessica Backman: Death in the Afterlife series (Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entityand Island of the Forbidden). He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing’s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. When he’s not writing thrillers and horror, he also spins tall tales for middle grade readers on Amazon’s highly regarded Rapids reading app.

An avid podcaster, he can be seen and heard on Monster Men, one of the longest running video horror podcasts in the world,and Final Guys, focusing on weekly movie and book reviews. His nostalgic column about the magic of 80s horror, Video Visions, is featured monthly at Cemetery Dance Online.

You can find his short stories in a number of anthologies, including Chopping Block Party, The Body Horror Book and Fearful Fathoms II. Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent. You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.

Follow @huntershea1 on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,

About the book

Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla bound. The only problem those who go seeking their fortune never return. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark ghost mine…as well as a sinister force hungry for fresh souls.

Review

Blackburn is asked by the President himself, Teddy Roosevelt, to investigate the disappearance of his troops, who were sent to a rural isolated town to find out if there is any truth to the rumours of a huge gold deposit in the area. There is no trace of them or of any other of the townspeople. Something strange is going on in the town of Hecla.

It’s getting a bit of a reputation, which is why other local townspeople are unwilling to set foot in the area. The question is whether it is all just folklore, paranoia or is there really something more nefarious going on. Perhaps they should steer clear of the creepy gold mine.

I really enjoyed the way Shea gave the story a cheeky western nuance, and the relationship between Teta and Blackburn is absolutely what makes this more than just a horror read.

The two of them have a camaraderie, they are brothers in arms and they have each others backs no matter what comes their way. The author gives the setting an old school two cowboys and their horses go on an adventures feel to it. Their relationship sets the tone for the rest of the story.

In fact I actually think it will entice more non-horror readers to read the genre. The author draws readers into the read by hooking them with the rambunctious, devil may care attitude of the two main characters. Then once he has lulled readers into a false sense of security the horror starts trickling in.

It’s horror meets western and a wee bit of historical fiction. On a side note, I would love to read more about Teta and Nat in the context of their previous experiences and adventures.

Buy Ghost Mine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; Paperback pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi. It’s horror meets urban fantasy with a nod at historical fiction.About the Author

Steven Hopstaken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his formative years watching and reading science fiction and horror. He has a degree in journalism from Northern Michigan University and spends his free time traveling; writing screenplays, short stories and novels;and practicing photography.

Melissa Prusi was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (often mistaken for Canada), and studied video and film production at Northern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She’s been a video editor,a semi-professional film reviewer,a three-time champion on the quiz show Jeopardy!,and a Guinness world record holder (1990 edition, for directing the longest live television show).

They met in a college screenwriting class and married three years later. They spent a brief time in Los Angeles, where they both worked for Warner Bros. television. They eventually ended up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they love the arts scene but dread the winters. While they both currently make a living as website content managers, they have sold two screenplays, which have been lost to development hell.

They’ve indulged their fascination with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde through trips to Dublin and London to research their lives and visit sites mentioned in Stoker’s Wilde.

They live in St.Louis Park, Minnesota with their two cats. If they’re not writing, you can usually find them at a movie, local theater production, improv show or pub quiz.

Follow @StokersWilde on Twitter

Buy Stoker’s WildeAbout the book

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop,a madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will.Review

What a wonderful way to combine two very important writers of the 19th century, and a wee bit of horror and the supernatural. Hopstaken and Prusi, the writing duo behind Stoker’s Wilde, have melded the creativity of both men to create an entertaining read.

The result is a band of merry werewolf and vampire slaying men. It reminded me of old classic horror stories and films. However it still manages to weave the oppressive morality laws and the way society seeks to conform individuals to their own set of standards, into the story. This defined Wilde’s writing and thought processes, which of course should have a place in his letters.

The book is set up with diary form and journal entries placed intermittently throughout, which have been collected and are held by The White Worm Society. Oscar writes to Florence Balcombe, his wife and later also his literary executor. There are also extracts from Stoker’s journal relating his version of the events. It gives the story an air of historical fiction, of someone wading in a piece of written history, and yet at the same time it has the exuberance of an urban fantasy plot.

It works because the writers know their stuff and have done their research. It’s important, when using a real historical figure in a fictional setting, to get the facts right, especially when it comes to being able to portray them realistically.

I came away from this read with a sense of nostalgia, despite the fang-toothed bloodsuckers and the furry moon-stalkers. With a need to pick up and read Wilde and Stoker and embrace their words. It’s horror meets urban fantasy with a nod to historical fiction.

Buy Stoker’s Wilde at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; Paperback pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Widening Gyre by C.J. Sutton. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.

About the Author

Born in the San Francisco bay area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy from Asimov to Zelazny, as well as endless terrible SF TV shows he still has a slightly embarrassed fondness for.

Faced with the choice between moving back in with his parents and continuing school, or paying his rent, he took “a year” off from college. He spent time as a court process server, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker, and a data entry tech, before finding himself in a management role. A decade later, burnt out from his job in political research and facing 30, he decided he’d had enough and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento.

In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher, a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had.

In 2013, he attended the 17th Viable Paradise Science Fiction Writing Workshop. The experience of having his story critiqued by other writers, some of them professionals he’d been reading for years, helped him realize he could write professionally, and introduced him to some of his best friends.

He currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays video games and tabletop RPGs (often with family), and reads.

Follow @MREJohnston @flametreepress on Twitter, Visit MJohnstonBooks.com

Buy The Widening Gyre

About the book

Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. The Zhen gave the humans a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state. But it hasn’t been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution. For hundreds of years, human languages and history were outlawed subjects, as the Zhen tried to mold humans into their image. Earth and the cultures it nourished for millennia are forgotten, little more than legends.

One of the first humans to be allowed to serve in the Zhen military, Tajen Hunt became a war hero at the Battle of Elkari, the only human to be named an official Hero of the Empire. He was given command of a task force, and sent to do the Empire’s bidding in their war with the enigmatic Tabrans. But when he failed in a crucial mission, causing the deaths of millions of people, he resigned in disgrace and faded into life on the fringes as a lone independent pilot.

When Tajen discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother’s quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity. What they discover will shatter 800 years of peace in the Empire, and start a war that could be the end of the human race.

Review

In this story the humans are the underdog. The rare species fighting for survival in a world run by aliens who eat raw and live meat. Shout out to the original V at this point, who loved to eat live rats and even hamsters.

Even in sci-fi there is room for sub-species to be discriminated against, treated as less than the superior race, and yet still used to stock up numbers in a war (aka bullet fodder). Tajen Hunt is a decorated war hero, the sole human carrier of the title Hero of the Empire. The fact he achieved this title by inadvertently causing the mass deaths of his own race, makes him a traitor to his own and deserving of an odd respect from the Zhen.

Tajen has to confront his feelings of guilt about his military career when a tragic event forces him to interact with his past and his immediate family. Easier said than done. He struggles to connect with his niece, in fact he struggles to connect emotionally to anyone.

He accidentally creates a team of determined truth seekers, who are willing to follow the scavenger hunt for information hidden by his brother. Not all of them believe the conspiracy theory and that the search will lead them to a planet surrounded my myths and tales of non-existence.

It’s a sci-fi space adventure with a ship full of rebels willing to defy a whole alien race to discover the truth about planet earth. What is so important the Zhen will go to any length to keep it secret, including killing those who are willing to dig deep to discover said secret.

I enjoyed the read. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.

Buy The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 14 Mar. 2019. Buy at !ndigo, Flame Tree Press, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powell’s, Waterstones or Book Depository.