TALES FROM DARK PLACES (anthology)

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Title: Tales from Dark Places: The Halloween Collection

Author: Misc

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

I’ve recently grown very fond of reading anthologies. When I was given the chance to read and review one specifically oriented toward the suspense and horror genre, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

There were some surprisingly exceptional short stories included in this anthology. A number of them truly had me feeling creeped out by the time they concluded. I felt like the anthology started and ended with some of their stronger works. I don’t think the stories in the middle were bad by any means but they were overshadowed by the time I got to them. That being said, the whole anthology was entertaining and exciting.

This was a great work and introduced me to some fantastic new authors. I’m looking forward to reading more of their works.

DEHUMANIZED by Michael Loring

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Title: DEHUMANIZED

Author: Michael Loring

Amazon Link

Goodreads Link

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

I feel like book genres go through a rollercoaster of popularity. Right now, there seems to be a huge push toward erotica, with thousands of new erotica novels and shorts being published every month.

Shortly after the explosion of the Twilight saga and movies, the rage was vampires and werewolves. It seemed that everyone had a supernatural story to tell and most of them centered around the inner turmoil of balancing the human they once were with the monster they’d become. With so many books in the genre, it was hard to find a standout.

Michael Loring’s DEHUMANIZED was an absolute standout for me.

Loring has a fantastic writing style, but it was his unique take on the werewolf genre that really appealed to me. In DEHUMANIZED, Ryan Zachary finds out that living as a werewolf is hardly filled with glamour. After being bitten, he’s stripped from his family, drugged, and driven to a concentration camp where other lycanthropes are kept as prisoners and treated like the animals they’ve become.

The werewolves in Loring’s story never have a chance to become the dominant hunters as they appear in so many other novels. Upon being infected, they’re immediately stripped of their freedom, their pride, and eventually their humanity. They fight amongst themselves for no other reason than overcoming the boredom of their imprisonment. Being a werewolf isn’t the exciting life that everyone expects or even a horror story; being a werewolf is the equivalent of serving a life sentence for a crime you never committed.

Ryan eventually finds friends in the inhospitable werewolf camp, even becoming attracted to his new female roommate. But in a world where your every move is watched and every aspect of your life controlled, even romance can be detrimental. Ryan had watched other werewolves being dragged away to secret laboratories but is devastated when he’s taken from even his new family, something far too reminiscent of his experiences after the initial attack.

The experiments give Ryan something no other werewolf has: the ability to change at will between the human and the monster within him. No longer does he have to wait for a full moon to change and no longer does he black out during the process.

What Loring does with the story from that point is fascinating and exciting. I won’t give any spoilers but will highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the genre.

I give this book five well-deserved stars!

World Aflame Dream Cast

I had the pleasure of being tagged by a couple friends for this challenge, which is to identify what actors/actresses would be your dream cast for one of your current or previous works.  Since I received the specific request for my New Adult World Aflame series, I have work to do.  There are four important parts to this post.  The first is a synopsis of one of my most recent books.  The second is an excerpt from said book.  The third is the dream cast.  And the last part is to tag fellow authors so they can do the same thing.  So, without further adieu, here are my four sections:

1) All about my current work:

Title: Flame Caller

Series: World Aflame (book 2)

FC Cover draft 1Here’s the synopsis:

THE EARTH GIVES WAY TO THE SEA 

THE SEA BOWS BEFORE THE WIND 

THE WIND FEEDS THE FLAME 

THE FLAME BURNS THE WORLD OF MAN DOWN TO THE EARTH.

White Halls is no longer a sleepy little town. Its houses lie smoldering on their foundations. The residents take refuge in their homes, afraid to leave. And the town’s prodigal son and newest Wind Warrior, Xander Sirocco, has fled.Xander has lost his family, his grandfather is in a coma, and now the fate of the world is in his hands. He has no time to figure out his feelings for Sammy–the Fire Wielder who saved his life after first trying to take it–because he has a world to save. But how do seven Wind Warriors fight off an army of Flame Callers… who are determined to burn the world of man down to the earth?

When a whispered word gives Xander newfound hope, he sets off to find the very thing that could save them all. They say that Elementals–embodiments of the elemental powers that the different castes wield–are only a myth. Even so, the hope of finding an Elemental is his only chance to save not only the Wind Warriors and Sammy, but also the world itself.

Little does Xander know that while he is out chasing the Wind Elemental, the Fire Elemental is closing in quickly behind him. It has nefarious plans for Sammy… and it will not stop until Xander is dead.

2) Share an Excerpt:

“I’m trying to hold onto sand. I’m clenching my fists as hard as I can to keep it all together but it’s not just the responsibilities of a Wind Warrior that are slipping away. I’m slipping away, too. This hole in my chest is getting bigger every day. At first, it was losing Sammy the first time, despite the fact that she tried to kill me. Then Mom and Dad—when they died it was like someone took a shovel to the sides of that hole and dug it as wide as the Grand Canyon.

“Then you, Grandpa. I don’t know if I ever really told you how I felt about you. It always seemed silly to tell your grandpa that you loved him but I really did. I thought I was going to shatter when you died. If losing my parents was like a shovel digging out the hole in my heart, losing you was like someone taking an axe and chopping to pieces whatever was left.”

Xander threw himself back and savored the cool, damp grass soaking through his shirt. A strong wind coursed through the labyrinth of remaining structures on the island and rolled over Xander as he lay prone.

“Now there’s Sammy again, like we’ve come full circle and every point on that circle was another layer of crap in my life. I sent her away. I don’t even know where; I couldn’t bring myself to ask Alicia when she got back. I should be happy about it, right? But I’m not. I know she’s the dynamite that’s going to blow apart everything I have left. But she was also my anchor and I just willingly cut the line and now I’m adrift in an ocean that just doesn’t make any sense anymore.”

A cloud passed between Xander and the sun, casting the island in a gratifying shadow. Covering his eyes, he looked up at the sky and noticed the dark edges to the cloud. In the distance, it was joined by more of its kind, filling the horizon with a brewing summer storm.

“If you’re up there, Grandpa,” he muttered as the cloud blew away and the sun beat down on him once again, “I could use a sign. Anything you can send my way would really help me out.”

The first raindrop struck Xander between the eyes. He blinked away the water as it rolled over his eye and down his cheek. By the time he was able to push himself into a seated position, the sky darkened as the fast-moving clouds blotted out the sun.

With a single crack of thunder, the clouds released their burden over the island. The rain came down in driving sheets, soaking Xander to the bone and leaving his tunic and pants stuck to his skin. Sputtering away the rivulet of water running over his mouth, he stood and looked over at the grave.

“Yup, it could always get worse,” he nodded to the stones. “Message received, Grandpa.”

With a sigh, he walked toward what remained of his house.

 

3) Dream Cast:

Here’s the part that everyone’s really interested in (myself included).  I’ve really had a hard time finding the right actors/actresses for the main characters.  I decided I needed someone for Xander, Sammy, Sean, and Jessica, but realistically I should find someone for General Abraxas as well.  So, though not everyone will agree, here are the actors I’ve chosen:

Xander Sirocco:

Jackson RathboneJackson Rathbone may be best known for his role in the Twilight series, but he’s a very well-established actor.  He’s talented while maintaining an aloof, standoffish personality that would do well as the lead of the World Aflame Saga.  He’s already had a couple roles where he’s even had the sweeping hair of Xander Sirocco, like the picture above.

Sammy Balor:

Jennifer Lawrence

Michael Loring, who was one of the authors who encouraged me to put this together, passed on using Jennifer Lawrence for the lead in his dream cast.  He’s clearly a silly, silly man.  Sammy is a Fire Warrior who is willing to sacrifice the life she’s known to be with Xander.  Though she sounds like a supporting role, Sammy is more than capable of holding her own in any fight.  Jennifer Lawrence has proven herself to be a tough actress, both on and off screen.  She balances a keen sense of humor with physical and mental fortitude, which would be a great attribute for the brazen Sammy.

Jessica:

Anna Kendrick

Jessica may be a sorority girl, but she’s far from the stereotypical airhead.  She’s smart, confident, sassy, and sarcastic.  She’s eight feet of arrogant personality crammed into a short 5’4″ frame.  Though she starts off as a bitter ex-girlfriend, she continues to grow both in character and importance in the story as the saga continues.  By book 3, which is coming out in December 2013, she’s taking a lead role in a number of chapters.  Anna Kendrick is a multi-talented actress who has already shown her smarminess (yes, smarminess) in movies like Pitch Perfect.

Sean:

Simon Pegg

Do I really think Simon Pegg is the right fit for Sean?  Of course not. He’s a 40-something actor and would never work as an overweight college student.  However, you’d be amazed at how hard it is to find an actor that fits the role.  My original thoughts went to the only overweight comedic actors I know, which are Jonah Hill (no) and Seth Rogan (no).  The reason I chose Simon Pegg’s picture was because he has the brilliant comedic timing to pull off the witty Sean comebacks and insults.  If anyone has any ideas about who would be a good choice, let me know.

General Abraxas:

Tom Hardy

General Abraxas is the bald headed, tattooed second in command of the Fire Warrior army.  He’s ruthless and brutal, leading his warriors through fear as much as respect.  When he hunts Xander in WIND WARRIOR, he murders Xander’s parents for the sole purpose of luring him out of hiding.  When I thought about who could play the role, what actor has the build and intimidation factor while still being able to engross himself in a role, Tom Hardy was the obvious choice.  Picture him with his head covered in tattoos and sharpened teeth while throwing fireballs from his hands and I think we have a pretty convincing Abraxas.

4) Tag Authors

1) I’m not going to list authors individually.  Instead, I think this would be a great challenge for any of my fellow Clean Teen Publishing authors to try.  It’s really fascinating when you force yourself to examine the physical and mental characteristics of your characters and try to apply that template to an existing actor/actress.  Give it a try!  I think you’ll really enjoy yourself.