It Arrives, Like A Beauty In The Night-APHOTIC REALM’S ‘TALES FROM THE REALM VOLUME ONE!’

Tales from the realm arrives

As promised by the very industrious S.J. Budd, this strangely beautiful book arrived in my mailbox today! Gunnar Larsen has outdone himself with the cover art. You really need to see it in person either in this beautiful paperback version or an E-book to get every fantastic detail. Many of my favorite writers are inside and I can’t wait to get started, so bye! Wait! Just kidding. I have a couple more words to say-INDEPENDENT PRESSES and WRITERS ROCK! Seriously, these are the people you want to support. They are working Dads and Moms who are following their dreams. Their dreams make the world a better place and reading makes us smarter and more connected to each other. Real books mean real jobs for us, too. Manufacturing, shipping, the US Mail, and even recycling or resale at a thrift shop to help the homeless. Be a part of the phoenix rising-support your favorite independent writers and presses today! Why not start with APHOTIC REALM?

Just Out From Joe R. Lansdale & Kasey Lansdale TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors! A Modernization of the Holmes & Watson Approach to the Unusual

Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors
Joe R. Lansdale & Kasey Lansdale
Cutting Block Books
May 29, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

In a previous review I did of a book about writing, Joe Lansdale voiced his opinion that the magic doesn’t just exist in the stories, but in the storytellers and how they plied their craft. I agree heartily with that statement. Otherwise, why would people have favorite authors that they eagerly await a new release from? Even people who binge watch a television series are proving that they are fans of the writers of the show. Joe Lansdale is certainly one of my favorite authors. He is one of the great storytellers with a voice that is amiable even while he tells you about something frightening. You feel as if you are travelling with a friend. Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors just released from Cutting Block Books, continues that fine tradition.

Joe is also very proud of his daughter Kasey and the wide amount of cool stuff she does. Besides being a fine singer and songwriter, Kasey is also an editor and a writer. Not every writer’s child decides to do the same thing their parent does. Contrary to popular belief, writing is not easy and no one is an “overnight success” despite what the entertainment rags try to tell us. Neither is fronting a band as a lead singer. You either get some broad shoulders or find something else to do where large amounts of people aren’t waiting to criticize you. Even though Joe prefers to write alone, he and Kasey collaborate on a story now and then. I’ve read the results and enjoy the mixing of their styles. So when the opportunity to review this book came up, I definitely wanted in.

Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors, is a fun and frightening collection of short stories that does a whole lot of nifty stuff while entertaining readers. One major thing it does is flip-flop the well-known gentlemen’s adventure club tale and put a woman in the storyteller’s seat. Dana Roberts is a very real feeling lead. She is in charge and is not shy about letting folks know that. At the same time, I like how honest she is. When clashing with a new member of the supernormal world, sometimes she’s scared, but not in a ridiculous “eek a mouse!” way. She keeps calm, watches her opponents, and uses whatever works. For example, in The Case of the Lighthouse Shambler a regular Coca-Cola bottle is used to save everyone’s life. Cool, right? It is one hell of a good story that sets the tone for the rest of the book. It is scary, yet there are these humorous bits that round out the story and humanize it.

Dana uses assistants at times and also works alone. She doesn’t much care for the term supernatural or the obscenely large amount of television shows that use it as the main topic. Hate mail be damned, I tend to agree with her that the majority of these “reality” shows fail to prove much except that you can record a lot of weird camera angles and strange sounds at abandoned buildings. Dana deals with the supernormal, which acknowledges much of what we speculative readers believe in. She’s also honest enough to tell her clients that a scary haunting is actually a nest of baby birds in an air duct. But enough with who believes what, there is someone more important to talk about. Jana arrives mid-book and it doesn’t take long to realize that she’s the right woman for the job of being Dana’s assistant.

Jana is introduced to us in the great collaboration of Blind Love and her down to earth approach to the supernormal world is perfect. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the things Jana had to say about a unique form of speed dating that involved staring into other people’s eyes and no speaking. But things go from silly to weird pretty fast and soon we are far away from downtown. Things get dangerous, but Jana walks right into a creepy old house that’s surrounded by a junkyard to save her friend. Once she and Dana start working together, each fills in the other’s gaps, making them a force to be reckoned with no matter who you are. They are strong, but laughter helps at times so that they’re not merely dry tomes of spells and facts. It’s amazing how the Lansdales are able to make their characters so real. That is their storyteller magic and has to be read to be experienced.

When I started this review a couple weeks back, I wanted to break the stories down and give more inside peeks to them. But the more I read, I realized that it’s not fair to do that. Joe Lansdale said that with writing we shouldn’t dissect things too far, lest we ruin the magic. I think that applies well to Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors. These stories are fun and full of action. Read them and enjoy the escape they give you. One thing that is brought up a lot is that one might compare Dana and Jana to Holmes and Watson. You might do that. It’s definitely a good point of reference, but I think this collection of stories does a lot more than that. Dana Roberts and Jana are about NOW. This pleasant read puts real women firmly in charge and conveys what we’re trying to do in the speculative fiction community. We want to empower people, expand diversity, and make sure that those who feel marginalized are included. The Lansdales have done that along with publisher Cutting Block Books and that is something to be proud of! FIVE STARS. Great reading, well presented, overall great message…What are you waiting for? Get your copy of Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horrors today!

Something New is Coming and it is NARAKA by Alessandro Manzetti!

NARAKA cover shot

Something new and totally horrifying has been set loose by award winning writer and poet, Alessandro Manzetti! Not only that, but I’ve been asked for a review of NARAKA! Previously I’ve reviewed the poetry of this powerful legend and even been inspired by it to write unique poems of my own. I am currently reading this excellent book and look forward to sharing my thoughts with you all. Until then, let me offer a quick peek. The Moon has become a prison for the worst offenders. It also has become a place of butchery where human flesh is sliced, organs harvested, and the meat packaged for consumption. Naraka is the Hindu word for a hell and there is no doubt you’ve arrived in one when you open this book! More to come…

Check Out My Review of Channing Whitaker’s “The Remnant”

The Remnant
Channing Whitaker
Off Speed Press
May 21, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Channing Whitaker has got a hot new novelette coming out on Off Speed Press’ Black Band Shorts series that I think you’re really going to like! The Remnant is a fast run of tragedy, amazing coincidences, and ancient things that should not be messed with. But we humans are never happy just leaving well enough alone and accepting the world as it is. So when Gene Winfield has a chance to muck around with a book that has been clearly labelled as something mere mortals should not even read, he dives right in.

The Remnant starts with a woman named Hazel zooming around in mysterious ways. The things she comes across and does don’t seem to have any clear meaning, but keep your eyes open, folks. Everything will be revealed as the story unfolds. The next place we find ourselves is the green room for an Oprah-type TV show. Gene Winfield is just about to go onstage and chat with the famous talk show host, Liberty Strong, when his cellphone rings. He gets some very surprising news but can’t talk to the attorney on the phone right then, because it’s GO Time! He needs to be onstage stat to tell the world about his brand new novel! Fame is calling and it waits for no man or woman.

But the show doesn’t go exactly as planned and soon Gene is on his way to the estate of his late aunt, Hazel Winfield. Mysterious circumstances surround his aunt’s death and her mansion is um…very unique. At first, Gene is a bit put off by the whole situation. He’s a New York City boy out in the middle of nowhere. The kind of place where the town is so small, they roll up the sidewalks at night and when you shut off the lights, it’s really dark. Yikes!

Since he can’t order pizza or Chinese take-out, Gene starts poking around until he finds himself in his aunt’s study. Ah, now this is more like it! There is a massive old fireplace to heat the place and some very unique furniture, but Gene is really taken with the massive desk. There is a picture of him and his Aunt Hazel on it. Not only that, but all nine of his previous books are prominently displayed in her library. Gene sheds a few tears and feels proud that he made that much of an impact on this exotic adventuress’ life.

As Gene goes about getting a fire going in the fireplace, he finds something which was supposed to be destroyed. It’s a mysterious old book with which he becomes infatuated and reads the whole thing in one sitting. As many of us writer-readers find, there are others who can tell tales better than we. The Remnant knocks his socks off and Gene is inspired to write a tale similar to the one he just read. After doing a search, there’s nothing online anywhere, so he won’t be violating copyright laws. He really needs a career boost, so what could be the harm?

Turns out there is plenty of evil that is unleashed by Gene’s new book. But before that happens, there is a section of the book that made me smile. As Gene gets all ready to write his best book ever…beeyoop! His tablet’s battery dies. It happens to us all, right? The frustration of it all! You’re inspired and ready write, but you got nothin’. Then Gene’s disappointment turns to elation as he finds exactly what he needs to get the job done in fine fashion-a typewriter. I like this because I use a typewriter on a daily basis and there really isn’t anything quite like it for writing. As long as you have the time, like Gene does, there is something magical about pounding those words directly onto paper and watching the pages pile up. Minutes turn into hours and hours into days until Gene finishes his story. If we stopped here it would be a happy story about a guy who loses his mojo and gets it back.

But The Remnant is not a happy story! Not at all. While Gene is having fun at the old typeroo, strange noises keep happening. At first, he stops and checks around, but after finding no source of the sound, he lets it go because…writing. A surprise guest comes by and unfortunately takes some actions upon herself that are not in the best interests of the publishing world. As Gene rushes back to NYC in an ecstatic rush towards fame and fortune, something else gets there ahead of him and…

Well, my goodness! Will you look at the time? That’s all I can tell you about The Remnanttoday. However, I’d like to offer this piece of friendly advice. Snap up a copy of this brand new novelette today! Channing Whitaker has put together a great little book of speculative fiction that will not only chill you, but also make you smile. Five Stars!

Check It Out! I’m Featured In the Summer Issue 34 of the Lowestoft Chronicle!

keep calm and smile on

Sometimes I like to write funny stuff. Usually it just kind of happens. I laugh, send it out and…That’s as far as it goes. Until the Lowestoft Chronicle took my short piece of of  creative nonfiction for their online magazine that specializes in travel related humor. Check out “Noise!” I hope you like it!

http://lowestoftchronicle.com/issues/issue34/brianjameslewis/