WHITE DEATH by Christine Morgan – Review

Here’s a cool review from Pint Bottle Press of the well researched historical horror novel WHITE DEATH by Christine Morgan on Bloodshot Books

Pint Bottle Press Blog

I recently finished Cormac McCarty’s Blood Meridian and was in the mood for something a little more accessible. (As much as I marvel at McCarthy’s style, it takes effort for me to digest). A novel about monsters sounded like it’d hit the spot, and my interest had recently been piqued by word of the new title White Death, which boasted a cool looking cover that featured a gnarly sabre-tooth creature roaring from the darkness. I’d never read anything by Christine Morgan, but I’d seen the author’s name pop up in indie writing circles. I heard she was mailing out signed paperbacks for a very reasonable sum, so I bought one on impulse.

I’m glad I did.

Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon:

white death coverJanuary 12, 1888

When a day dawns warm and mild in the middle of a long cold winter, it’s greeted as a blessing, a reprieve. A chance…

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Remember-Your Song Is Important! The only bad songs are the ones left unsung.

woody_guthrie kills fascists

THE WORLD IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NO LONGER NEEDED AND WHO TRY TO MAKE SLAVES OF US ALL. THEY HAVE THEIR MUSIC AND WE HAVE OURS

THEIRS ARE THE WASTED SONGS OF A SUPERSTITIOUS NIGHTMARE

OURS ARE SONGS OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY

BUT WITHOUT THEIR MEAN HURTFUL MUSIC, WE WOULD NEVER KNOW HOW STRONG, TRUE AND POWERFUL OUR MUSIC REALLY IS

-WOODY GUTHRIE

A little inspirational quote for the day from a man who was never shy to speak his mind. Woody wasn’t perfect and neither are we, but he went out and did things. He took that risk and spoke up during some dark times. We owe it to ourselves to at least try shining our light in the darkness. Be that light a poem, story, essay, song, painting, sculpture, or dance. By doing those things we assert that we are human beings and that we are free no matter what else is happening around us.

 

Looking For Just One More Way To Celebrate National Poetry Month? TRAJECTORY JOURNAL Has Got It Covered!

Trajectory 16

Trajectory Journal wants to wish everyone a most happy National Poetry Month! Issue 16 came out this April and contains a powerful hybrid full of Poems by Mark Kinnaird, William Greenway, and Denise Thompson-Slaughter among others. There is also short fiction by yours truly, nonfiction by Michael Kroll, book reviews, and great photography by the legendary t. kilgore splake. That’s just scratching the surface-but I’m busy as heck with yucky real world stuff, so I got to roll!

In the meantime, follow your soul to http://www.trajectoryjournal.com ! You can dig the Editor’s Picks section for free and purchase a single paperback (really nice paperback w/ enclosed binding and glossy cover) through PayPal for $12 or perhaps subscribe. If you’ve got a brain, you’ll really dig this stuff!

It’s Still National Poetry Month! May I suggest Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi’s collection of poetry and prose BREATHE, BREATHE?

Breathe Breathe cover shot

As National Poetry Month eases towards its ending, I want to give thumbs up to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi for her daring hybrid book of stunning poetry and strong stories that I am currently in the process of reading. Due to a wacky week from hell, I was only able to get started, but what I’ve seen so far is really great! I should have a full on review of BREATHE, BREATHE up next week, please stay tuned! Should you wish to read this excellent book yourself, head on over to Unnerving Magazine at https://www.unnervingmagazine.com to purchase your own copy and peruse the fine products this rapidly growing independent press is putting out! Also, Erin is a wonderful person full of positive energy who works very hard to push authors into the limelight and keep our community growing! More soon-over and out. Happy Trails until we meet again!

National Poetry Month Guest: Poems from Christina Sng, Bram Stoker Award Winner

Hook of a Book is also celebrating National Poetry Month! Great writing from Christina Sng!

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

April is National Poetry Month, and though I’ve been behind on getting many posts up about it, I’m hustling and featuring several poets I know and love from the dark fiction/horror/fantasy/sci-fi genres this week. I’d want to thank the authors that agreed to hustle with me in order to be able to offer this small April series to readers. In the future, I plan to hopefully feature poetry here, beyond my own, at least one or two times a month as a special project.

One of those amazing ladies I adore for her positive spirit, her friendship, her talent, is Christina Sng! She’s a ray of sunshine to me every day and her creativity in both art and writing inspires me. Christina won a 2017 Bram Stoker Award® this year for her collection, A Collection of Nightmares from Raw Dog Screaming Press. She’s garnered more than 70 awards and nominations, including…

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Joe Fletcher’s THE HATCH From Brooklyn Arts Press Keeps Us Going For National Poetry Month!

The Hatch cover shot

The Hatch
Joe Fletcher
Brooklyn Arts Press
February 17, 2018
reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Joe Fletcher gives you his eyes, ears, nose, and senses. I mean this in a literary sense, of course. In his first full length poetry collection The Hatch Fletcher takes us many places. Some so visceral, that one feels uncomfortable, unsure, and frightened. From international shores to ponds behind trailer parks and holes in garden walls, Fletcher’s mind runs rampant. Reading his work is like being him for a moment. No time is wasted on why. Those thoughts come later, after you’ve read a few poems and attempt to get on with your regular day. That’s when The Hatch strikes! All the little pieces of the puzzle coagulate in your head, delivering sights, sounds, and smells

The Electrical Congress in the Mountains, Rusty Squeezebox, Double Transduction-The titles of Fletcher’s poems are far from the ordinary. Some of them are spikey, others feel like silky fabric, most of them are not an exact label of the poem’s contents. This is refreshing and powerful stuff! Exactly what I want to show people who still think that all poetry is overly ornate, perfectly rhyming greeting card fodder. Stuff that is either so sickly sweet you need a shot of insulin after reading it, or buffoonish in its humor. No offense meant to greeting cards, but poetry should provoke a visceral reaction. Joe Fletcher’s poems will haunt you and make you think.

OTWAY is a nice example of Fletcher’s poetry. A man is fishing off of a funky pier in near darkness. But this is no jolly relaxing evening. There are many portents of evil, such as the child’s pink shoe bobbing in the water nearby. Grimly hanging onto his beer and cigarette, the man notes that there is a scuffle in a trailer and people are having sex in a beat up car hidden behind the bushes. Everything seems tense, waiting for something to happen. We are not disappointed. A sobbing boy wearing a wooden mask and standing in canoe that is being powered by something not visible, glides into view and lands in front the startled couple. While that is strange and disturbing enough, Fletcher fans the coals with an unexpected strike on the fishing rod just as something crashes in the trailer.

Jack Mike paints a vivid, night time surgery occurring under a tent while a storm thunders above. The surgeon is drunk and the conditions poor, but somehow the patient pulls through. When morning comes, the poor fellow leaps from his hammock and gallops off into a field. Temporarily blinded by the surgery, the man falls down and is trampled by a huge pig. So much for a speedy recovery! On life support, the patient exists in the murky territory between life and death. Until he is accidentally killed by his own daughter, who unplugs the cord while sleepwalking. How’s that for twisted horror?

Joe Fletcher’s writing is very original and has qualities that will appeal to many readers. I think that those who enjoy speculative fiction, weird tales, and dark poetry will really enjoy The Hatch! But it’s certainly not limited to just us. Anyone who’s looking for a collection of real poetry that connects solidly with readers will dig it, too. Highly recommended! A definite two thumbs up! Fletcher’s work has been featured in many journals, including: Painted Bride Quarterly, Gulf Coast, and Slope. He’s also a teacher of writing and literature at the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina prison system. If you are hungry to read more of Joe Fletcher’s writing, Brooklyn Arts Press is also the publisher of his poetry chapbook Already It Is Dusk. BAP is a cool independent publisher that has over forty titles available and is still growing. Check them out. You’ll be glad you did!

Keep on Celebrating National Poetry Month with the FIELD GUIDE to the END of the WORLD by Jeannine Hall Gailey and Moon City Press!

Field Guide To End of World cover shot

Field Guide to the End of the World
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Moon City Press
Sept. 1, 2016
Review by Brian James Lewis

With its excellent cover art and survivalist look, one might mistake Field Guide to the End of the World as an instruction manual for the day that horrible event comes to pass. In a way, they’d be right. Writing poetry helps us to cope with a lot of pretty awful stuff. It also celebrates life and living it. Jeannine Hall Gailey uses her poetry to do all of that and makes more than a few social comments along the way.

For those who truly wish to survive the apocalypse, you might want to be-bop on down to your local extreme survivalist store for necessities. Just don’t forget to pack this book to keep you from going insane in your underground bunker while waiting for the “all clear” signal! You will definitely enjoy Martha Stewart’s Guide to Apocalypse Living featuring the line “Now’s the time to get out your hurricane lamps! They create a lovely glow in these last days.” Also remember that, Zombie Stripper Clones: They Are Not Regenerating.

In the Cultural Anthropology section of her book, there is an interesting re-take on Dorothy, the wizard, and the Land of Oz. It makes her much more modern and flawed. There is also an Introduction to Teen Girl Vampires that pairs real issues with the super powers of the undead. Even when Gailey is using scientific terms, the humanity comes bursting through. This fine book of poetry never feels cold or loses the reader. Sometimes we might have to follow markings made on dead trees, but we’re included and encouraged to take a good hard look at ourselves along the way.

Jeannine Hall Gailey is a member of the HWA and the SFPA. She’s also been the poet laureate of Redmond, Washington, and is the author of four other books. Jeannine has been featured in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Verse Daily, and on National Public Radio. Despite MS trying to ruin her life, this amazing poet pushes it back with the power of writing and the love of reading. You can follow her on Twitter and her website: http://www.webbish6.com

When I read this book, it felt like home. This is not silly, greeting card poetry. It is sturdy stuff that grabs your attention and pokes you in the face. The horror of trying to continue on when everything is broken and the sci-fi usage of electromagnetic and DNA is a great mix. I really enjoyed this book and definitely encourage all of you to buy a copy if possible. Field Guide to the End of the World is a great read that you can sip a few poems from daily and let them roll around in your mind like fine wine. It’s also a nice bridge to our darker world for people that are unsure. All the elements we like are in there, Jeannine Hall Gailey just takes them uptown.

 

NO MERCY by Alessandro Manzetti and Crystal Lake Publishing is a perfect choice for celebrating National Poetry Month!

No Mercy cover shot

NO MERCY
Alessandro Manzetti
June 8, 2017
Crystal Lake Publishing
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

 

This is dark horror poetry at its most intense and elaborate! Taking this poetic journey with Alessandro Mazetti, readers will surely recognize some names, things, and activities. But you will not know it all and that is good. NO MERCY truly offers no mercy! It is an unstoppable flood of images flickering past the readers’ startled eyes at warp speed. A frightening intensity set upon you like an attack of piranhas. I urge you to plunge your head into this waterfall and see what terrifying wonders await you! A magical technicolor nightmare, if you will.

Perhaps my words be too flowery, but I am struck dumb for mere words to explain what I saw in this collection of poems. NO MERCY brings to mind the first time that I read William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. It’s like taking an acid trip without actually dropping any acid! I don’t know about you, but I really like that feeling of being both frightened and yet laughing at the depravity. When you are done reading, the “real” world will seem so terribly normal and boring.

I like that Manzetti dedicated the book to Janis Joplin, aka Pearl, the ugly duckling who turned out to be royalty. The poems about her are beautiful and crammed with detail. But for writing, he chose Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue because the melty tones and textures of jazz are perfect for writing poetry. Jack Kerouac even wrote his poetry to fit how a horn player would blow. This poetry has that Beat quality. You want to read it fast and feel the riffs. Don’t overanalyze because you’ll just ruin it. Great poetry is stuff that you can read multiple times and get something different. NO MERCY is a book that definitely deserves multiple reads!

Some of my favorites in the book are, No Mercy, The Ghost Subway, and one of the longer selections A Dream Of Milk and Blood. The imagery in the last poem is so detailed, yet constantly changing. A coin is required for many of the changes of scene and is inserted in many different receptacles. One of them is even the main character’s forehead. I dig the nod to Gregory Corso for Morning Suicide. I like a lot of things in this collection, especially the beautifying of terrible things. Sometimes the things you need will find you and not the other way around. Instead of eating, you may be satisfied by being eaten and becoming part of something greater.

A little aside about the book publisher: I really like it when you can see how much heart has gone into putting a publication together. Crystal Lake obviously really cares what we readers think. Not only that, but they invite us to get involved. Sharing the good word with friends can mean the life or death of an independent publishing company. It also makes you part of an extended family of sorts, which is cool.

Do I think you should get a copy of this book ASAP? Yes, I do! Unless you are a squeamish uptight person. If that’s the case, this book might not make you happy. However, rest assured that if you just take a look around on the Crystal Lake and Journal Stone sites, you will find a great read that fits you! Alessandro Manzetti is a writer with extensive publication credits who really knows how to grab you and not let go. Recommended!