By Catherine Bader
No work. No money. No food. Hallucinations coming and going.
He tried to read some books from years ago that he’d saved. Greek mythology.
Kept him busy. Kept him calm.
One day, he looked in the mirror – there was hair growing everywhere – all over his body. A couple of lumps showed up on his forehead. As the days went by, he continued to change.
Mailman found on ground – gored and bloodied.
The last mail delivered to the man upstairs. They found him hanging by a cord, dead.
Walls covered with thousands of pictures and drawings of the Greek God Pan.
“The Glass Circle” tells the story of a Las Vegas drug dealer who lives a crazed drugged out lifestyle alongside many gonzo cronies, but eventually opts out of the drug business before it destroys him. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2397595
The story was written not to glamorize drugs but to show a raw and gritty realistic lifestyle with a lot of pathos. It takes place in the city of sin from the seedy streets of Downtown Las Vegas to the posh suites of the Strip. https://www.facebook.com/TheGlassCircle and https://twitter.com/TheGlassCircle
Strong Image Films goal is to produce motion pictures that will entertain, surprise, touch the soul, break new ground and refresh the spirit of true independent filmmaking through provocative story-telling. http://strongimagefilms.com and https://www.facebook.com/StrongImageFilms
by Terrie Leigh Relf
It’s not like I don’t like spiders.
I would chase after and gently ease them into cups or napkins, carry them outside. They’re sentient beings, too, right?
But I just got so tired of being bitten.
Seriously. You should see me. Gross City! Palms and wrists, feet and ankles. . .all. . .swollen. . .up.
Then all those unmentionable areas. That soft. . .succulent. . .flesh. . .
I knew that spiders were pretty damn smart, so I decided to just squish them, wish them a speedy birth to a higher plane and all that.
Boy was I ever stupid.
For more from Terrie Leigh Relf, go to tlrelf.wordpress.com
Reveiewed by Marvin P. Vernon
It should be noted that Z Plan: Blood on the Sand is the first book in a series. There is nothing more annoying to me than a novel than has a cliffhanger ending when the author does not warn you it is the first book of a series. So when Mikhail Lerma and his publisher avoids this trap and lets the reader know this from the beginning, I become extremely grateful.
But it also gives me another challenge. No longer is the review just about whether I like the book or not. it also becomes: Is it good enough to warrant investing time and money to the rest of the series?
Let’s hold off on that question and consider the first one.
Blood on the Sand starts in Iraq with US army soldier Cale involved in his tour of duty and missing his family. However an unexplained plague of zombies cuts him and his friends off from the rest of the world when the creatures invade the army base. With the base virtually destroyed, Cale and three of his friends make a Zombie Plan; to leave Iraq and head to the Mediterranean where they hope to catch a boat to go home to America. Technically they are deserters but with the rest of the world on the brink of extinction, it seems to be a moot point.
One of the best things about this novel is how the author uses his military experience to write a very believable scenario, except for the zombies of course, involving the attack on the base. The first third of the novel is a creative blend between a military novel and a zombie tale. Lerma’s zombies are pretty much straight out of Walking Dead; mindless and always hungry. However the author does the very wise move of focusing our attention on one character and his reason to survive. Cale is likable and determined but no superman. He has his weaknesses and doubts which makes me want to root for him even more. We feel his pain when he needs to make a decision that has no easy answers. The ability for the author to make his main character a flawed but good man in a bad situation is what makes this zombie novel different from the rest of the pack. The action segments are very well written which again attests to the author’s focus on the military aspects and the reality of combat even as our heroes leave Iraq to go on their journey.
There are some aspects to the book that tells me this is a first novel. For instance, the changes in perspectives seems a bit awkward and there are some lulls in the book that break up the tensions more than necessary. But these are minor things considering how well most of the book moves and how the author keeps the reader involved in the story. Overall it is a formidable debut.
But what about that cliffhanger? Am I ready to invest emotionally in the series?
In a word, yes. When I got to the end, even knowing that it would be continued, I felt I read a complete first part of the series. The ending, which of course I won’t reveal, was a satisfying first installment that had me looking forward to a more revealing second installment. That is the way a series should work.
Those who crave the Z’s (Zombies) and want a series who’s Z Plan (Zombie Plan) has a determined and realistic protagonist will enjoy this novel. Hopefully the rest of the books will be as intriguing as Blood on the Sand for it is a very promising start.
Blood on the roses.
I look down at Craig lying next to the garden shears. Shears are open. Rusty. Still sharp. I had to do it. Had to stop him getting to the guests in the house. It’s dark enough out here that they probably couldn’t see all that. Maybe they heard the scream. Hope they didn’t.
Milk white eyes looking up at the greenhouse roof. Twisted up hands. Teeth ain’t right. It used to be Craig. It isn’t anymore. I’m not sure what it is, but I got it before it got me. And it was really trying.
The Double Down series continues with two stories that explore the very different realities of Karen Richard’s life. The common prologue springboards two talented authors into alternate realities – two stories, two authors, one book.
In John R. Little’s Secrets, Karen Richardson can occasionally stop time. She is free to move around while others are frozen in time. She finds the hidden truths of those around her, including her new friend, Bobby Jersey, who may not be all that he seems. At first it seemed fun, powerful, exhilarating, but in the end Karen’s power may cost her everything she’s ever cared about.
In Mark Allan Gunnells’ Outcast, Karen Richardson is a college freshman dealing with a non-existent social life, a difficult roommate…and the power of telekinesis. As her powers grow, Karen begins to lose control. Her new friend Bobby Jersey offers his assistance. But is he somebody that Karen can trust, or will her abilities destroy everything and everyone she knows and loves.
Reviewed by Marvin P. Vernon
Brian Allen Carr’s The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World features the author’s sparse but very literary style in a short novel of about 120 pages, yet managed to fill each page with jarring descriptions and fantastical imagery enough for 10 books. He seems to enjoy flash fiction styled chapters that teases the mind and delight the eyes evidenced in the first paragraph (and chapter) of the novel…
“Scrape, Texas – far from fame or infamy – appeared on maps, was passed through by travelers. A blink of crummy buildings, wooden households – the harsh-hearted look of them, like a thing that’s born old.”
And on to the next chapter.
Scrape, Texas is indeed a desolate blink of the eye. Its residents might be called losers but they never appeared to have been anyplace but Scrape and never had the choice of either winning or losing. When Carr’s bizarre apocalypse arrives, you can almost hear the sigh of “What now?” coming from the town’s inhabitants. The author evokes a number of Latin American mythologies in his very literary end of the world, appropriately so since the fictional town of Scrape exists close to the West Texas-Mexico border. Many sections are fittingly disturbing and horrific. But I am not sure this should be called a horror novel. From the first few pages, Carr have created an eerily accurate description of small town desert life with its drunks, gun aficionados, directionless teens, and an endless sense of resignation. It takes Mexican apparitions like La Llorona, disembodied hands and the whip-ladened El Abuelo to truly pull Scrape’s inhabitants out of their present indifference.
The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World is best read as a painting in prose; a look at taken-for-granted ennui placed on its head and shaken. It is a beautifully odd and quirky vision. There may be some hidden meaning to life in this work but if there is, Carr is going to make you work for that meaning. Yet it is unarguable that this thoughtful work reads quickly and effortlessly in a way that keeps the reader both entertained and pleasantly, if disturbingly, disoriented. The only minor issue is with the ending that comes abruptly, leaving the reader thinking, “And then what?” But it fits. There is nothing ordinary about this novel. If you are looking for something different in literary fiction, you found it.