February 28, 2011

And the Winner Is ...

Okay. After throwing the names in a proverbial hat, I've drawn a name as the winner of Amy Grech's Blanket of White short story collection.

And the winner is ...


Incidentally, Melissa runs a blog called Little Miss Zombie. This past month she has been conducting interviews with a multitude of female horror authors for Women in Horror Recognition Month. And Amy Grech was one of the authors interviewed, no less. I encourage everyone to check out her blog and read at least a few of those interviews. You're bound to find a name of two you haven't heard before, and possibly some more names and titles to add to your own wish list.

Congrats, Melissa. I'll be contacting you via e-mail soon.

On My Radar: The 2010 Bram Stoker Award Final Ballot

In case you didn't already know, the HWA announced the final ballot for this year's Bram Stoker Awards. Whether you're a fan of awards or not, these lists at least provide a great list of reading recommendations. I've discovered some fantastic authors thanks to the Stoker Awards. Oddly enough, this information is yet to be posted on http://www.stokerweekend2011.org/, but I'm sure that'll be remedied soon. At least the authors nominated were contacted and got the word out.

Here are the categories and the nominees:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL:
  • HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
  • ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
  • DEAD LOVE by Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Stone Bridge Press)
  • APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
  • DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
  • A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL :          
  • BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
  • A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
  • CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
  • SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION:
  • THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
  • DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
  • MONSTERS AMONG US by Kirstyn McDermott (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
  • THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
  • INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION:
  • RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
  • THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
  • 1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
  • IN THE MIDDLE OF POPLAR STREET by Nate Southard (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
  • FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY:
  • DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
  • HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
  • MACABRE: A JOURNEY THROUGH AUSTRALIA’S DARKEST FEARS edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
  • HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
  • THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION:
  • OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
  • BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
  • FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
  • THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY by Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)
  • A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION:
  • TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
  • THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
  • WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
  • LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY collection:
  • DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
  • WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam’s Dot)
  • DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
  • VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Bandersnatch Books)

Congratulations to all of the nominees. I've only had the chance to read a few of the titles listed above, but it's pretty safe to say that I'll be making an effort to read even more of them in the near future.

Getting Graphic: "Jonah Hex: Guns of Vengeance" by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Jonah Hex: Guns of Vengeance
written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
illustrated by Luke Ross, Tony Dezuniga, Phil Noto, David Michael Beck, & Paul Gulacy
DC Comics (2007)
ISBN 13: 9781401212490

If there's one theme that a western carries often, and with ease, it's vengeance. Guns of Vengeance is a compilation of Jonah Hex, issues 7 through 12, and while each story is separate from the next, the undercurrent of revenge is all over each and every page.

"One Wedding and Fifty Funerals" has Jonah Hex attending a wedding, which comes off as socially awkward at best considering his reputation and demeanor. The pleasantries end quickly though, as a posse led by the bride's jilted lover sets fire to the tent and starts gunning down the wedding party. Jonah pursues them, but it winds up some even shadier criminals get in his way.

"Never Turn a Blind Eye" offers up another furious band of gunslingers, but this time they're German and on the hunt for a wounded man who seeks the protection of Jonah Hex. But when Hex sizes up the situation, he realizes that not everything is as it seems, and the Germans might not be the villains.

"Gettin' Un-Haunted" is tragic and shows the demented version of sympathy from Hex. A young girl who helps nurse him back to health after a run-in with Indians winds up dead beacuse of an altercation he has with her mother and townsfolk. Time passes and he crosses paths with the mother again, only to wind up in bed with her and at the business end of a gun when a posse comes for him.

"Gator Bait" is all about the swamp folk. A black man's dying wish is for Jonah Hex to avenge his death and save the man's wife and baby who are still in the clutches of an inbred band of criminals who live in the middle of a gator swamp. The despicable acts they commit show they deserve everything Hex has in store for them too.

"The Hangin' Tree" is a kind of sequel to a story that was featured in the first Jonah Hex graphic novel I read and reviewed. Hex is saved from a hanging at the hands of a band of carnival freaks by a supernatural avenger known as El Diablo. The carnival folk are simply out for revenge, however, as Hex is responsible for killing their boss--a guy who just happened to kidnap and indenture children.

"The Bloodstained Snow" caps off the graphic novel with a story of Mormons trying to stake their claim in the snowy hills only to be shunned and hunted down by the neighboring town. When Hex comes onto the scene, he finds himself caught in the middle between two forces out to destroy the other.

Unlike so many other graphic novels I read, these stand-alone stories are a treat to read. And growing up watching the old John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and Clint Eastwood classic westerns, there's a part of me that will never tire of tales about gunslingers and the Old West. Hex isn't exactly the most likable character, but he's not meant to be, and the callousness of the times rings true more often than not.

Still haven't seen the film adaptation starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox yet, and I'm not in a hurry to either, because I wouldn't want to sully the enjoyment I have when reading these comic books.

February 26, 2011

Grasping for the Wind's Gargantuan List of Book Blogs

John Ottinger has a great blog called Grasping for the Wind, dedicated to science-fiction, with a bit of fantasy and horror thrown in for flavor. Recently, I saw his gargantuan list--thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Darryl Hannah for resurrecting that word--of book blogs dedicated to speculative fiction. So, in case you are looking to add a few more cool book blogs to your feedburner, here's the list as it stands today.


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German


52 Weeks of Geek

7 Foot Shelves

The Accidental Bard

A Bibliophile’s Reverie

A Boy Goes on a Journey

A Dribble Of Ink

Adventures in Reading

A Fantasy Reader

A Fantastical Librarian

The Agony Column

A Hoyden’s Look at Literature

A Journey of Books

Allan Bard

All Booked Up

Alexia’s Books and Such…

The Alternative

Andromeda Spaceways

Anomalous Thoughts

The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

ask nicola

A Southern Fried Weirdo

Audiobook DJ


Australia Specfic In Focus

Author 2 Author



Barbara Martin

Babbling about Books

Bees (and Books) on the Knob

Best SF

Bewildering Stories

Bibliophile Stalker


Big Dumb Object


The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf

Bitten by Books

The Black Library Blog

Blog, Jvstin Style

Blood of the Muse

Book Addict

The Book Bind


Book in a Series

Book Love Affair


Book Series Reviews

Booksies Blog


Books on the Knob

The Book Smugglers


The Book Swede


Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]

Brain Harvest

Breeni Books

Brenda Loves Books


Calico Reaction

Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]

Charlotte’s Library

Circlet 2.0

Civilian Reader

Cheryl’s Musings

Club Jade

Cranking Plot

Critical Mass

The Crotchety Old Fan

Curling Up By The Fire


Daily Dose – Fantasy and Romance

Damien G. Walter

Danger Gal

Dark Faerie Tales

It’s Dark in the Dark

Dark Parables

Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews

Darque Reviews

Dave Brendon’s Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog

Dazed Rambling

Dead Book Darling

Dear Author

The Deckled Edge

The Discriminating Fangirl

The Doctor is In…

Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

Drey’s Library

Drying Ink

Dusk Before the Dawn


Enter the Octopus

Erotic Horizon

Errant Dreams Reviews

Eve’s Alexandria


Falcata Times

Fantastic Reviews

Fantastic Reviews Blog

Fantasy Book Banner

Fantasy Book Critic

Fantasy Book Reviews and News

Fantasy By the Tale

Fantasy Cafe

Fantasy Debut

Fantasy Dreamer’s Ramblings

Fantasy Literature.com

Fantasy Magazine

Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin’ News and Reviews

Feminist SF – The Blog!


Fiction is so Overrated

The Fix

Floor to Ceiling Books

Flying off the Shelves

The Foghorn Review

Follow that Raven

Forbidden Planet

Frances Writes

Frazzled Book Nommer

Free SF Reader

From a Sci-Fi Standpoint

From the Heart of Europe

Fruitless Recursion

Fundamentally Alien

The Future Fire


The Galaxy Express


Game Couch

The Gamer Rat

Garbled Signals

The Geeky Bookworm

Genre Reviews

Genreville [Publishers Weekly]

Got Schephs

Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

Grasping for the Wind

The Great Gnome Press Science Fiction Odyssey

a GREAT read

The Green Man Review

Gripping Books



Hero Complex


Hot Cup of Coffee

Hyperpat’s Hyper Day


I Hope I Didn’t Just Give Away The Ending

Ink and Keys

Ink and Paper

The Internet Review of Science Fiction


It is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous


Janicu’s Book Blog

Jenn’s Bookshelf

Johnny Oops

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Jumpdrives and Cantrips


Kat Bryan’s Corner

Keeping the Door

King of the Nerds


La Bloga

Lair of the Undead Rat

Largehearted Boy

Layers of Thought

League of Reluctant Adults

Legends of Fantasy

The Lensman’s Children

Library Dad

Libri Touches

Literary Escapism

Literary Musings

Literaturely Speaking

Little Red Reviewer

ludis inventio

The Luminous Page

Lundblog: Beautiful Letters

Lupines and Lunatics



Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review

Mari’s Midnight Garden

Mark Freeman’s Journal

Marooned: Science Fiction Books on Mars

Martin’s Booklog


Michele Lee’s Book Love

Missions Unknown [Author and Artist Blog Devoted to SF/F/H in San Antonio]

The Mistress of Ancient Revelry

MIT Science Fiction Society

Mithril Wisdom

Monster Librarian

More Words, Deeper Hole

Mostly Harmless Books

Multi-Genre Fan

Musings from the Weirdside


My Favourite Books

My Overstuffed Bookshelf


Neth Space

The New Book Review


Not Free SF Reader



OCD, Vampires, and Rants, o my!

OF Blog of the Fallen

The Old Bat’s Belfry


Omphalos Book Reviews

On A Pale Star

Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy


The Ostentatious Ogre

Outside of a Dog


Paper Spaceships


Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist

Patricia’s Vampire Notes

The Persistence of Vision

Piaw’s Blog

Pink Raygun

Pizza’s Book Discussion

Poisoned Rationality


Post-Weird Thoughts

Praetor Naturam

Publisher’s Weekly


Pussreboots: A Book Review a Day



Ramblings of a Raconteur

Random Acts of Mediocrity

The Ranting Dragon

Ray Gun Revival

Realms of Speculative Fiction

The Reader Eclectic

Read. Breathe. Relax.

Reading Fairy Tales

Reading the Leaves


Review From Here

Reviewer X

Revolution SF

Rhiannon Hart

The Road Not Taken

Rob’s Blog o’ Stuff

Robots and Vamps


Sacramento Book Review

Sandstorm Reviews

Satisfying the Need to Read

Science Fiction Times


Sci-Fi Blog

Sci-Fi Bookworm


Sci-Fi Fan Letter

The Sci-Fi Gene

Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]

SciFi Squad

Scifi UK Reviews

Sci Fi Wire

Scribbler to Scribe

Self-Publishing Review

SF Diplomat



SF Gospel


SF Reviews.net

SF Revu

SF Safari


SF Signal

SF Site

SFF World’s Book Reviews

Shawn Lazarus

She Never Slept

Silver Reviews

Simply Vamptastic

Skull Salad Reviews

Slice of SciFi

Solar Flare

Speculative Book Review

Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction Junkie

Speculative Horizons

The Speculative Scotsman

The Specusphere


Spiral Galaxy Reviews

Splashdown Reviews

Spontaneous Derivation

Sporadic Book Reviews

Stainless Steel Droppings

Starting Fresh

State of Review

Stella Matutina

Stomping on Yeti

Stuff as Dreams are Made on…

The Sudden Curve

The Sword Review


Tales from the Black Abyss

Tangent Online

Teens Read and Write

Tehani Wessely

Temple Library Reviews

Tez Says

Thinking About Books

things mean a lot


True Science Fiction

Tyrion Frost’s Fantasy Blog


Ubiquitous Absence



Urban Fantasy Land

Utter Randomonium


Val’s Random Comments

Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic

Variety SF

Veritias Omnia Vincula

Vons Books


Waiting for Fairies

Walk into Mordor

Walker of Worlds

Wands and Worlds


Wendy Palmer: Reading and Writing Genre Books and ebooks

Weirdmage’s Reviews

The Weirdside

The Wertzone

With Intent to Commit Horror

The Wizard of Duke Street

WJ Fantasy Reviews

The Word Nest

Wolfe and Raine


The World in a Satin Bag


Writing About Reading

The Written World

The Wry Writer



Young Adult Science Fiction



Cititor SF [with English Translation]





Foundation of Krantas

The SF Commonwealth Office in Taiwan [with some English essays]

Yenchin’s Lair






Fernando Trevisan

Human 2.0

Life and Times of a Talkative Bookworm

Ponto De Convergencia


Science Fiction Made in Brasil



Fantasy Seiten

Fantasy Buch

Fantasy/SciFi Blog


Welt der fantasy

Bibliotheka Phantastika

SF Basar

Phantastick News



Phantastick Couch


Fantasy News

Fantasy Faszination

Fantasy Guide


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German

February 25, 2011

Rabid Reads: "Sandman Slim" by Richard Kadrey

Sandman Slim
by Richard Kadrey
Eos (2009)
388 pages
ISBN 9780061976261

I would say Richard Kadrey demonstrates a rapier wit in his novel, Sandman Slim, but it's less like a rapier and more like a sawed-off shotgun. James Stark, the protagonist and narrator of this story, is brash and about as antihero as a character can get. Hell, this guy makes most antiheroes look like boy scouts.

Stark has a pretty good reason for being so pissed off, though. He's been in Hell for more than a decade, and upon learning his girlfriend has been murdered back on Earth, he's busted out of Down Town (Hell's nickname for itself) to return to L.A. and find the people responsible: his former circle of magician friends who sent him to Hell in the first place.

I suppose this novel fits nicely in the urban fantasy genre, what with it set in Los Angeles predominantly and has plenty of demons and magic, but the tone of the novel seems to defy the conventional idea of that sub-genre. There's more anger permeating through the text--it is a revenge tale after all. The quick-witted one-liners and fight scenes do lend themselves to that action-oriented fantasy adventure.

The beginning of the story sets the stakes really well, introducing important characters and alluding to others that appear later. But the first act seems to spin its wheels for a bit. It kind of meanders, or deviates, from the overlying mission Stark is on. It's entertaining, yes, but I had to wait a hundred pages or so for the book to really kick into high gear. But when it did, the book was impossible to put down.

Another plus for this book is that it works as a stand-alone novel, even though it's the first book in a trilogy (or maybe series) that usually forebodes some kind of cliffhanger or "to be continued" moment. Sandman Slim is a very satisfying reading experience all on its own, so I was spared the aggravating feeling that comes with so many books that serve as jump offs for trilogies.

I'll be looking forward to reading the sequel, Kill the Dead, in 2011. Fantasy tales with a barbed-wire tattoo instead of a tramp stamp are a welcome change of pace.


February 24, 2011

Rabid Rewind: Legion

starring Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki
directed by Scott Stewart
screenplay by Peter Schink & Scott Stewart
Screen Gems (2010)

It's a cryin' shame to see a movie that had potential to be a good pulpy action film wind up a disjointed mess like Legion. When I first saw trailers for this movie in late '09, I had my fingers crossed. Then I started catching the reviews for it, and my hopes were dashed. That's all a bit melodramatic, I suppose--and needlessly so--but so was this movie. For a film filled the most ridiculous action sequences and utter disregard for coherence, it takes itself very seriously.

The world's about to end because God has given up on humanity, so he's ordered his archangels to lead their armies to Earth to kill everyone--but most importantly to kill an unborn child. But Michael refuses and is cast out of Heaven. What makes the child so special? Beats the hell out of me, because the makers of this film didn't bother with the why. In fact, there are a lot of why's that are ignored throughout this movie.

So Michael falls to Earth and seeks out the child in a desolated diner in the Nevada desert, all the while the rest of the planet is razed by God's army of angels, led by the angel of death Gabriel. Now, part of the problem I had with the majority of the movie was how an army of angels was being held at bay by a rag-tag collection of humans and their arsenal of military-grade weaponry. Yes, the lesser angels possess humans of a weaker spirit, but half the cast holed up in the diner could be described as that, yet go unpossessed. It's irritating when a movie silently insists that you stop noticing the parade of imperfections.

It's not all bad. The performances from the actors are, for the most part, very watchable in spite of some very stilted dialogue and hair-brained scenarios. If there's a saving grace to the film, it's having actors like Dennis Quaid, Paul Bettany, and a couple others on the cast to lend a little gravity to key scenes. A lesser cast would have made this an abhorrent direct-to-DVD catastrophe.

Don't expect Legion 2 any time soon, although I wouldn't have expected Hollywood to make Wild Things 4, but there was a trailer for that on the DVD. God may not have given up on humanity, but sometimes when I see a bad movie, I do.