RELOADED!

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RELOADED BOTH BARRELS Vol 2 is out and boy is she a beaut! Available in both paperback and e-book, but with gorgeous front/back cover art from the talented Joe DellaGatta, this is a book you'll want to have on your shelf. RELOADED was a blast to work on, and I hope you all enjoy it. Hats off to fellow editors Ron Earl Phillips and Jen Conley, and a HUGE thank you to all the contributors.

SHOTGUN HONEY, the premier crime and noir flash fiction website, is locked and RELOADED with 25 new stories by some of the best authors in the world. Featuring work from Patti Abbott, Hector Acosta, Erik Arneson, Cheri Ause, Trey R. Barker, Eric Beetner, Terence Butler, Joe Clifford, Garnett Elliott, Rob W. Hart, Andy Henion, John Kenyon, Nick Kolakowski, Ed Kurtz, Frank Larnerd, Chris Leek, Mike Loniewski, Bracken MacLeod, Julia Madeleine, Brian Panowich, Terry Rietta, Rie Sheridan Rose, Ryan Sayles, Richard Thomas and John Weagly.

Available through Amazon.

a book a week 1.3

Officially making this a monthly post. On to Round Three of mini-reviews: Fags and Lager Booze and Burn

Fags and Lager (retitled Booze and Burn) by Charlie Williams

"Royston Blake don't wipe arses for no fucker. I'm just being meta...you know, meta...I'm just saying like." BOOZE AND BURN has solidified the Mangel Series as some of my favorite books. I spent far too much time away after reading DEADFOLK (read my review here.) But I'm happy to say that BOOZE AND BURN held it's own and I'll be reading the next three books before the year is out. In BOOZE AND BURN, another outsider has arrived in the city of Mangel and kids are causing all kinds of disorderly mess. As Blake says so eloquently, "I'm Royston fucking Blake, and every cunt knows where I stands on outsiders. They don't scare us and I ain't fooled by their ways." The book takes place a couple of years after DEADFOLK, and Williams does a brilliant job making it stand on its own without dumping information about the events in DEADFOLK on the reader. Readers interested in a truly unique voice and a heavy dose of black humor should look no further.

Choke Hold

Choke Hold by Christa Faust

The sequel to Faust's Money Shot, CHOKE HOLD catches up with Angel Dare after the previous book's events wrap up - or so you think. CHOKE HOLD succeeds because of its believable characters and story. This isn't just an episodic series where characters heal and get a fresh restart. There are real consequences for Angel's actions and it's been great to watch her grow (and survive) over two novels. Hoping for a third!

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Junkie Love by Joe Clifford

JUNKIE LOVE is a compelling wild ride in which Clifford lays his soul bare and pulls no punches. I think another reviewer may have described it best as "making you feel like you're rubbernecking a multi-car accident on the highway." To me, it felt like watching a swimmer come up for a little less air each time before dunking their face back in to take another stroke. A fascinating story and one hell of a gutsy book.

A Wind of Knives

A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz

Having enjoyed Kurtz's action-packed entry in the Sam Truman series, I was eager to pick up his latest novella. I'm a big fan of Westerns, though more through film and television than in print. I've read a lot of Western short stories but nothing novella/novel length. I went into A WIND OF KNIVES without reading the back cover blurb or any reviews, and I was pleasantly surprised with the direction Kurtz took with his tale of revenge. A WIND OF KNIVES is a story about love and revenge, but also about change. The novella takes place during the Civil War. A time of great upheaval when men were being conscripted into the Confederate Army and law enforcement spread thin between common crimes, deserters and the 'Indian threat.' It's during this time that the protagonist, Daniel Hays, finds his ranch hand (and lover) tortured and hanged by a gang of hateful men. What follows is a fast-paced tale full of memorable characters and events that will stand up well next to any Western piece of fiction.

Babyjuice

Baby Juice by Brian Panowich

Being a fan of Zelmer Pulp, how could I not snap up a kindle single with a title like BABY JUICE? Panowich's sample of the upcoming Zelmer Pulp weird west collection introduces Harmon Brown, more beast than man and haunted by his past. BABY JUICE contains a lot of background on Brown that I hope Panowich delves into in future tales. BABY JUICE is an action-packed romp through 1880's Dodge City, teeming with weird western flair that made me wish I still had my old Deadlands books. Looking forward to more Weird Westerns.

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Asylum - 13 Tales of Terror by Matt Drabble

I'm a sucker for asylum horror. From Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island to House on Haunted Hill (yes, I'll admit even the remake possessed a few parts I enjoyed). So Matt Drabble's ASYLUM - 13 TALES OF TERROR was right up my alley. The book follows Martin Parcell, former writer turned janitor at the Blackwater Heights hospital. I enjoyed the stories from Martin's perspective and learning about the patients and staff at the hospital, how they came to be there and why they remain. A few of the stories contained truly chilling moments and were just the right length to keep me coming back for more.

a book a week 1.2

Round two of mini-reviews. Check 'em out and go support these passionate authors: Mountain Home

Mountain Home by Bracken MacLeod

MOUNTAIN HOME is a thrilling debut from Bracken MacLeod. The shock and awe of the first few pages will have you hooked. Parts siege, character study, revenge thriller, real-world horror reminiscent of Jack Ketchum, a hint of supernatural and more, all wrapped into a tightly paced package. And while the plot is superb, it's the characters and setting that bring it home for me, pun intended. MacLeod crafts real and relatable characters that you'll find yourself caring about, all the way to the bitter end. Highly recommended.

Lost in Transition

Lost in Transition by Errick Nunnally

Before I read Nunnally's Lost in Transition, I would occasionally read the comic strips in the Sunday paper. Now I can't get enough. Lost in Transition is the perfect combination of dry and witty humor. If you've ever worked in an office or, better yet, had The Man get you down (and who hasn't?) this is the perfect book for you. Hoping for more!

Broken Branch

Broken Branch by John Mantooth

BROKEN BRANCH is a wonderful companion to THE YEAR OF THE STORM. Like an appetizer before the main course, Mantooth treats the reader to a little taste of the magic one finds in THE YEAR OF THE STORM. I won't spoil the details as I think the story is best discovered on its own, but it is well worth your time. It was interesting to read BROKEN BRANCH after having read THE YEAR OF THE STORM. I look forward to going back to them again in the future and reading them in order. Great prose, layered characters and well paced.

The Wheel Man

The Wheel Man by Duane Swierczynski

I recently tackled two novels by Swierczynski in preparation for a class of his that I'm taking at LitReactor this summer. The first, THE WHEEL MAN, is a wild ride and fun read. The near non-stop action is very cinematic and Swierczynski's style incorporates many character POVs to keep the ramped pace sparking. While this might bother some readers, (there are 2-3 main POVs, with additional minor characters who cut in for sometimes a paragraph or less) I found each voice to be unique and carefully planned to add value. The tone varied from serious crime thriller to cartoon-y/over the top - even some shockingly dark moments. That brings me to....

Fun and Games

Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski

...FUN AND GAMES, the first novel in the Charlie Hardie trilogy. Like THE WHEEL MAN, FUN AND GAMES is action-packed, quickly paced, and told through multiple POVs (though less than THE WHEEL MAN, spending more time with the protagonists, Charlie Hardie and Lane Madden). The novel reminded me a bit of Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger series, and got me wondering if Swierczynski is placing all his novels in the same world. FUN AND GAMES was a bit more fantastical in places than I was expecting, but I bought into it - and it has a great sense of humor. I won't spoil anything, but Swierczynski handles difficult, brutal scenes with a deft hand. Looking forward to finishing the trilogy.

Robot Baby

Hey, That Robot Ate My Baby Vol.1 (Zelmer Pulp)

The crew at Zelmer Pulp has found a groove rich with wit, dry humor, incredible visuals and strong writing across five stellar tales. Time travel with Ayn Rand, alien abductions, entrepreneurial hackers, grit-infused futuristic paradise and more. HEY, THAT ROBOT ATE MY BABY VOL.1 has got something within its pages that should appeal to both scifi and non-scifi fans alike. I'm eagerly awaiting future Zelmer Pulp releases.

Staring into the Abyss

Staring into the Abyss by Richard Thomas

Excellent collection of dark fiction (and I mean dark) that lives up to its title. The short length of many of the stories surprised me, but I think impactful work is sometimes best served in short bursts (as it is here). Some of the standouts for me were the more fantastical tales - "Maker of Flight," "Transmogrify," "Victimized," and "Underground Wonder Bound" (LOVE that title). Take some time with each story. I've already reread a few of them and came away with more than I did after the initial read-through. I'll definitely be going back for more.

Writing 21st Century

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass

Probably the best book on writing that I've come across (and I've read a few.) Everyone learns differently - a book that works for one may be terrible for another, but HIGH IMPACT really connected with me, especially the "21st Century Tools" at the end of each chapter. These tools are designed as a series of questions and ideas created to push writers to look at their work differently - to break it down, rework it and make it better. Published in 2011, it was refreshing to see Maass take full advantage of citing both classic and very recent works in his examples.

I still have a full plate of books on deck, but here are a few more I've added to the mix:

Condimental  junkie  blazes  Home Invasion  Slow Burn

Condimental OP by Andrez Bergen

Junkie Love by Joe Clifford

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

Home Invasion by Patti Abbott

Slow Burn by Terrence McCauley