Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Horror”

Book Review: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Dead ZoneThe Dead Zone by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are some authors who are so far beyond reviews that it is almost an insult to review their work. Stephen King is one of those authors. Hope he doesn’t mind the insult…

Is there really much point in giving a brief introduction to The Dead Zone? It was a TV show, a movie, a bestselling book, and has been in print for almost as long as I’ve been alive. The only thing I feel the need to point out is that despite being a Stephen King novel this is not a horror story. I know King has a wide palate now, but his early work and reputation was built upon the horror genre. With the title as it is and a story about a psychic trying to stop Armageddon, you could be forgiven for stepping into this novel expecting a horror novel. Give me a break, I didn’t read the blurb or any reviews.

The supernatural elements of this story disguise a tale of living life after a setback (car crash and coma). Cut the finale and downplay the psychic angle (maybe drop the aspects that resemble plot development as well) and you have a literary novel. It is these extra elements that make this story worth reading whilst making it a very human novel to read. This is certainly a great example of King’s work and demonstrates why he has been a bestselling author for 40 years.

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Horror stories in two sentences

Prepare to be scared!

20 horror sentences

NB: I tried to find the source of these stories or even the picture without much luck. I assume it has come from a writing competition somewhere, so if you know, please tell us because there are some genuinely good writers on this list we should be having names for.

Book Review: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this novel after watching the fantastic Pan’s Labyrinth. If you haven’t watched that movie, do so now. In fairness though, this novel has more in common with Del Toro’s contribution to the Blade series of movies than it does to Pan’s Labyrinth.

This is another take on the viral outbreak thriller, thankfully it doesn’t take it down the path of zombies, as most recent novels in this genre have done. Non-sparkly vampires are back!

The only disappointment for me was that this was definitely the first instalment in a trilogy and felt a little more unfinished than I’d have liked. The writing is very reminiscent of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Prendergast series. Worth a read for horror and thriller fans.

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Dog horror movies

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Genre vs Literature


During a discussion the other day my favourite authors and books came up as a topic of conversation. Needless to say I listed off writers like Lee Child, Matthew Reilly, Robert Crais, Matt Hilton, etc. Now these people weren’t exactly literary snobs, but they did respond as if I was supposed to list the authors of classic literature and contemporary literature.

Seriously?

Can we all stop pretending that there is something superior about literary fiction. I’ve seen discussions of social problems in crime fiction, fantastic use of literary techniques in horror, exploration of character and humanity in science fiction; all performed with more skill and insight than I have seen in the literary genre.

How about we go back to judging a book by its cover.

Book to movie horror stories

Combating Writer’s Block: Advice by Genre

There is no worse disease for a writer than writer’s block. I’d also say that writer’s block is terrible for readers too, uninspired prose is what we expect from policy and political people, not our entertainment. I’m a fan of Stephen King’s writing advice: set a daily word goal and stay at it until you reach the goal. There is something about daily writing and forcing yourself to write that seems to make things flow.

But Tyson, I hear you say, I’m stuck with no ideas for what to write next. Luckily I was procrastinating whilst writing the other day and came up with a definitive fail safe for each major genre. Any additions are welcome in the comments.

Thriller Writers
When writer’s block strikes kill someone or blow something up.

Crime Writers
When writer’s block strikes describe the main character getting drunk and wallowing in self pity.

Mystery Writers
When writer’s block strikes introduce a red herring.

Romance Writers
When writer’s block strikes introduce new character with rock hard abs.

Literature Writers
When writer’s block strikes describe a tree in intimate detail.

Fantasy Writers
When writer’s block strikes have a talking dragon appear, or have the characters go on a long walk somewhere.

Sci-fi Writers
When writer’s block strikes cut and paste physics article from Wikipedia into your novel.

Horror Writers
When writer’s block strikes cut and paste autopsy reports into your novel.

Paranormal Writers
If you already have vampires, ghosts and werewolves in your novel, introduce ninjas and pirates as characters.

If you are really stuck after all of these ideas, then there is no novel in existence that can’t/couldn’t be improved by the addition of pirates and/or ninjas.

E-readers are filled with garbage?

An article in The Guardian on Sunday suggested that garbage, which they defined as genre fiction, was the big seller on Kindles and e-readers. See article here.

Prepare for the irony.

Okay, irony aside, The Guardian has published a number of articles extolling the inferiority of e-readers and e-books. For example, they deride romance and erotica as genres, yet they have always sold well. They deride horror, yet Steven King has been a bestselling author for 40 years. Excuse my cherry picking, but I can’t be bothered digging out my stats sheets to bury this argument further.

For years the literary fiction and biography markets have been kept afloat by the gift and commuter sales. Commuters can’t be seen to be reading anything other than high art or an intriguing insight into some mundane public figure, whose only claim to fame was being able to stand in front of a camera at the right moments. Similarly the books people received as gifts were always some intellectual boorish bunk posing as entertainment.

Now commuters don’t have to have the cover of their book on display and are free to read what they actually enjoy reading. Gift givers are wising up and going to wishlists and giving download vouchers. This isn’t just the end of snobbery, it is the start of truly great works of fiction.

Book review: Origin by Joe Konrath

OriginOrigin by J.A. Konrath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People would assume that because I’m a writer I would have heard of Joe Konrath as a result of his excellent blog about writing and self-publishing. Well, I’d like to say that I found out about the world of self-publishing and writing via Joe after I’d become a fan of his books. I liked his mix of humour and darkly themed tales. I especially liked his novel Shaken, which had me buying anything else I could find of his.

Actually, come to think of it, Shaken may have been the first e-book that my wife and I bought.

Origin is less Jack Daniels and more horror, that is to say, it has less humour and is more about the thrills. Origin definitely keeps the pace up and is an enjoyable read. At about 60% finished (e-book remember) I had trouble putting this book down to do even important tasks, like take the dog out and make tea.

I’ve given 4 stars, but it is somewhere between a 3.5 and 4 star book. The mix of genres works most of the time, but at other times it feels like someone should be eaten by a monster, not making doe eyes. Definitely a book for horror fans, or anyone who likes thrills and can handle a little horror.

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Book Review: The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey

The KultThe Kult by Shaun Jeffrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After I read Shaun’s book Dead Man’s Eye I did two things: bought his other books and made a cup of tea. What can I say, I like tea.

Shaun is what you expect from an indie author; he writes books that entertain him first, pouring a lot of energy and enthusiasm into his stories. I enjoyed The Kult, not just because of that, but because Shaun has also turned out a fine thriller.

Actually, calling this book a horror is probably underplaying the thriller aspects of the novel. The last half of the book had me rapt. I recommending reading Shaun’s books for fans of thrillers, horror or for those who feel like something fast paced with tension.

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Book Review: The Dead Man: Kill Them All by Harry Shannon

Kill Them All(The Dead Man # 6)Kill Them All by Harry Shannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry is the latest author to contribute to The Dead Man series of novellas. It must be daunting to receive the call.

Lee Goldberg: Hi Harry. Do you want to write an edition of The Dead Man?
Harry Shannon: Why sure Lee, I love that series.
Lee: Okay, just don’t fuck it up!

Fortunately Harry has come through with the writing goods to keep the series’ reputation intact. Matt and his axe are back, once again visiting a small town, ready to kick some evil arse (I’m Australian, we spell it arse, not ass). This time, though, some professional bad guys are after his blood, literally.

Harry’s other books are worth checking out as well. He writes horror (the Night Series) and thrillers (Mick Callahan series), showing the creepy thrills in this Dead Man book weren’t an accident. Lee and Will continue to deliver the goods with this series.

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May, the Zombie Awareness Month

It is time for everyone to buy their gray ribbon for Zombie Awareness.
http://www.zombieresearch.org/awareness.html

Every year we are asked to support worthy causes and this May is the time to recognise those who have been bitten or those who have been chased when their chainsaw ran out of fuel. The awareness campaign also funds vigilance towards the impending doom of the Zombie Pandemic.

Remember to keep your shotgun at hand and chainsaw sharp and fuelled this May!

Be prepared!

 Zombie killer of the month:

Alice. Because I’m male.

Book Review: The Deadman: Hell in Heaven – Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin

I’m not a fan of gambling. I once watched a friend of mine place $1000 worth of $1 bets on roulette in the space of half-an-hour before heading to the ATM to get more money to throw away. I’m pretty sure I could have found more fun things to do with that grand, and not all of them would have been immoral. Since I’m not a fan of gambling I’m not a fan of horse racing, a sport that exists merely in order to gamble. In spite of that, I feel the need to use horse-racing vernacular.

Since I have begun receiving each Deadman novella prior to release, I feel like I’ve had the inside running on the Darby winner. Hell in Heaven is the third in the series and once again it is a winner! It will be on sale from tomorrow (4th May) so grab it. If you like a well written, pacy, horror thriller, this book, and series, is for you.

A quick recap is in order, but I’ll try not to add any spoilers, the last time I did friends disowned me, even though I was saving them from The Crying Game. The hero of this series is Matt Cahill and his trusty axe. In the first book, Matt recovered from a mild case of death to discover that he could now see the evil eating away at people’s souls. This lead him to discover he had picked up a nemesis he dubbed ‘Mr Dark’. In the second book Matt has set out to track down Mr Dark and introduce him to his axe. To find answers he stops off at a mental hospital. Nothing bad ever happens in a mental hospital. Now in the third installment Matt has stumbled into Heaven, population 136, actually 137: they were expecting him. Matt may be able to see evil, but does it have to be evil that makes bad things happen?

This series has kept me rapt from the first page, quite an accomplishment considering that the authors have been running a baton relay of writing. Fortunately these authors are the Jamaican sprint team doing the 4x100m relay, each stage just gets better and better. A few thrills, a bit of mystery, a strong overarching storyline, a cool lead character and a few horrifying bad guys, should keep people glued to their e-reader (unless you prefer to read dead trees, in which case glued to the page). Also I should note the bonus chapters for the next installment of the Deadman series, The Dead Woman, will be by David McAfee and appear to promise the series will keep going strong.

Book Review: Dead Man – Ring of Knives by James Daniels

There is a saying in the music industry that the second album is the hardest. You are backing up your first work in the series and the pressure is on to not just come up with new material but to create something better. But what do you do with the band that changes its entire lineup and releases a new album? Well normally you would avoid it like a “Guns ‘n’ Roses”* Chinese Democracy album.

James Daniels has had the unenviable task of taking on the second installment of the Dead Man series of novellas started by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. Now James has taken an interesting tact with the second novel: he has tried to outdo Lee and William and succeeded. Given the high standard set in the first novella, Face of Evil, this is no mean feat.

When we left Matt Cahill he was starting his trek to discover why he made an amazing recovery from his mild case of death and why he can now see evil as other’s souls are eaten away by it. Seeking answers he is trying to speak with another who has been similarly afflicted. What better setting for a horror novel than a psychiatric hospital!? This book expands upon how Matt’s story and hints at Mr Dark. But Mr Dark isn’t who Matt has to be worried about in this book.

So James has done this series proud and has created a thrilling, suspenseful read. I really enjoyed this sequel and I pity the poor writer following on from James. They don’t have to just be as good or better than the first, now they have to top this one as well.

*It hasn’t been Guns ‘n’ Roses since Slash left.

Book review: Dead Man’s Eye – Shaun Jeffrey

This little beauty has been at the top of my Kindle list for a long while now. Much like Steven L Hawk’s book, I stumbled across this via the book cover under a post on the Kindle Boards. Score another one for forums and great book covers!

Now according to Goodreads I’ve been reading this one for a long time. In reality though I’ve been reading this at lunch times when not Beta reading other novels (actually I think this is more novella length). So the fact that this book has kept me interested with my short spurts of reading for the first 50% shows that it is well written. I decided today that I couldn’t wait for another work week to finish it; I did so and enjoyed every moment.

Shaun has done a great job with this book. The premise is set up quickly and smoothly, the characters are well done, the plot flows nicely, and despite treading an oft trod storyline the book manages to remain fresh and interesting. I should add something about paranormal thrillers and the like, but the back cover synopsis really says it all.

I couldn’t finish this post without saying a little about a debate that seems to have erupted on the interwebz regarding the quality of indie vs. traditionally published books. Having just finished this book and Beta read Steven and Rex’s work I feel the need to make a comment.

Why is it that traditional publisher’s advocate themselves as some bastion of quality publishing? For some reason traditional publishing is claiming that it has been discerning the wheat from the chaff for all time, making sure that grammar and spelling mistakes don’t exist, that only good stories make it to the consumer.

Of course they do such a good job of this. I agree completely.

I mean JK Rowling was rejected by a dozen publishers, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 was rejected because no-one could tell if he was being satirical or funny, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers, Stephen King’s thumbtack holding up his rejection notices had to be replaced with a nail, and Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language. Great job! Check this and this for more.

I think that these guys are all great examples of people who deserved to be rejected. There is no way that any author could possibly produce a good book that would be rejected. There is no way that any author could produce a book that won’t be filled with spelling and grammatical errors without a publisher. Just wouldn’t happen.

Indie and self-published author’s like Shaun Jeffrey and Steven L Hawk are great examples of author’s who clearly take pride in their work. They have editors and put out professional publications. There is no magic that publishing houses bring to the table. Can we acknowledge that self-publishing is just as legitimate as traditional publishing. Hocking el al. have proved that, lets move on.

Book Reviews – The Dead Man: Face of Evil by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin

Before this review, in the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I have known Lee since last week when he sent me a pre-release of this book. We go way back. Now onto the review.

This was another book that I read during my lunch break. Please don’t tell my boss, as I read more of this on the first day than my lunch break technically allowed – of course I still have enough overtime to miss a week of work so I don’t feel so bad. Needless to say this book is far too engrossing for its own good. I highly recommend reading it when you have more than a half hour lunch break.

Lee and Will are the first in a team of 8 to write this Dead Man series. Face of Evil can be regarded as a stand-alone novella, but it does set things up nicely for more to come. This is primarily a thriller with aspects of horror, with a generous smattering of the paranormal. I’m not really a horror fan, I don’t really need those details, but here it isn’t overriding and the paranormal/horror aspects add nicely to the tension. The release date is February 20th, which is today for me, tomorrow for Americans (yes I’m coming to you from the future), so keep an eye open for this one.

I can’t wait for the rest of this series.

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