Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tales of Alhazred

Tales of AlhazredTales of Alhazred by Donald Tyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tales of Alhazred is a collection of short stories about Abdul Alhazred, necromancer and author of the Necronomicon.

Ghoul Bane: Something is feeding on the local ghouls and it's up to the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, to find the culprit.

The first of the tales is a fine introduction to Alhazred, the author of the Necronomicon and one of the early figures in the Cthulhu mythos. The tale itself is pretty straightforward but eases the reader into the collection.

Mountain of Shadows: Alhazred and his two companions climb a mountain in search of a talisman to ward off Nyarlathotep. Will they find it at a strange Christian monastery full of levitating monks?

Now this was more like it, a perfect blend of Cthulhu mythos and sword and sorcery.

Brazen Vessel: A djinn snatches Alhazred from his bed and transports him across the desert. His task: free the seventy-two djinn imprisoned by Solomon inside a brass vessel.

Alhazred continues his growth as a sorcerer, this time contending with a menace straight out of the old testament.

Isle of the Dead: What's worse than an island full of undead? The creatures animating them!

This one was pretty revolting at times. Alhazred and gang sure go through hell on a fairly regular basis.

Dance of Durga: Altrus kills a man for cheating at dice and agrees to take up the sins of the town. However, that's not all he's volunteered for...

Religious fanaticism at its best! And, with huge vermin, at that.

The Caliph's Necromancer: Someone is trying to kill the Caliph using necromancy and Alhazred and company are on the case! Will they find the culprit before the Caliph is murdered?

Not a bad tale by any means but my least favorite so far. It still had some great character moments, however.

Revenge of the Djinn: The son of a djinn kidnaps Martala, forcing Alhazred into a duel. Alhazred's weapon of choice: dice?

Alhazred out-thinks his adversary in this outing. Good stuff!

Hand of Nilus: Alhazred, Altrus, and Martala arrive at a monastery to learn of a bounty placed on a missing relic, the mummified hand of St. Nilus.

Great stuff. Necromancy, a powerful artifact, and the gang pissing off another Christian monastery. I haven't mentioned it before, but the stories frequently have a touch of humor.

Red Claws: A monstrous leopard has stalked and killed all but one member of a caravan. Alhazred and company take in the woman and death follows in their wake...

This one was bloody and while I thought one of the twists was telegraphed, the other hit me like a telegraph pole.

Ancient Evil: The necromancers of Damascus are facing a shortage of essential salts from Egypt and look to Alhazred to find the culprit.

An ancient evil is raised and runs roughshod over the necromancers until Alhazred pieces together what is going on. Not my favorite story but it felt like a good one to end on.

Conclusion: I loved this book. The stories were a fun mix of Lovecraft and sword and sorcery. The tales were a diverse mix and left enough unanswered questions for me to want another volume. If you like old school pulp fantasy and the Cthulhu mythos, this is a must-buy.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Rock N Roll Head Case

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Chaino Durante finds Alice Cooper's head in the bottom of a fryer, wrapped in a trash bag, he has no idea of the turn his life is to come. For Alice Cooper's head becomes fused with his hand and becomes a very strange weapon. And then things start to get strange...

The best thing about the New Bizarro Author series is how different all the books are from one another. Lee Widener's Rock N Roll Head Case takes the weirdness in a whole other direction.

You don't run across a whole lot of books where the talking severed head of a rock and roll legend serves as a weapon and isn't even the strangest part of the story. Rock N Roll Head Case is such a book. It also features Andre the Giant, Charles Manson, and a man with an eyeball for a head. Interested yet?

You should be. This is one fun, crazy, crazy-fun book. Chaino goes on a rampage with Alice Cooper as his spirit guide and an eyeball for a head, and remakes the world. What's not to like?

Rock N Roll Head Case is a very cool short book. Three out of five stars.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks

Slasher Camp for Nerd DorksSlasher Camp for Nerd Dorks by Christoph Paul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jason Vorheesberg is a failure at being a slasher, leading to his mother dumping him at the Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks. Will be become the Slasher he's always wanted to be and win the girl of his dreams?

The New Bizarro Author Series is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get, be it nougat, bacon, or crunchy frog.

Boy, even slashers have it rough in high school. Jason Vorhessberg is an aspiring Slasher with crippling anxiety in a world where Slashers are a form of population control. Dark humor and social satire are the order of business.

The stories has some commonalities with Friday the 13th but is pretty damn original. I didn't expect the love story to go the way it did, nor Jason stepping it up a notch. Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks is a heart warming coming of age tale for homicidal maniacs. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

King Space Void

King Space VoidKing Space Void by Anthony Trevino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dane Shipps is one of thousands of workers aboard King Space Void, a starship of unimaginable size in the shape of a colossal human. When a woman named Scarlet shows up, she takes Dane on a journey through the innards of King Space Void that will shatter his world view...

Okay, the 2015 Bizarro Author series has blown my mind once again. King Space Void is kind of a space opera via Stan Lee. Picture the world devourer Galactus, only with civilizations of people living inside him. What happens when one of the workers realizes his ride is destroying worlds? Yeah, pretty good shit.

I love what Anthony Trevino has done with King Space Void. How can you not like a such a crazy scenario with surprisingly deep characters and exotic locales? Dane goes through the wringer and back and, in the end, makes the only choice possible, as difficult as it may be.

That's about all I want to say about this. It's best experienced for yourself. King Space Void is a great example of why I read Bizarro fiction. It's fiction without boundaries. Four out of five stars.

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Monday, October 26, 2015


TowersTowers by Karl A. Fischer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lured by the promise of Heaven, Alti and Quatra became Towers, tasked with battling giant monsters for a thousand years. Alti wakes after his term to find himself flesh once again. Has Quatra made the same fate and can he find her?

The 2015 New Bizarro Author series sure has a lot of love stories in it, doesn't it? This time, it's between two kids who become sentient battle towers and then regain their fleshy forms, only to become giant monsters. Haven't we all read that story before?

No, actually, we haven't. Towers is a uniquely bizarre tale of a love that lasts for a thousand years. It's not very sappy about it, either. Alti experiences doubts, much like all of us who have served guard duty as a living Tower for a thousand years.

I found a few typos but the only real gripe I have with this one was the shifting time frames were a little unclear at times. Still, the raw emotion pouring off the page made me forget such things pretty quickly. Three out of five stars.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Elephant Vice

Elephant ViceElephant Vice by Chris Meekings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Mayor Dumps' son is found dead of an apparent **** overdose, the police turn to ace cops Vincent Van Gogh and Ganesha. Can a post-impressionist painter and a Hindu god find who is behind the **** ring and save the city?

You never know what you're going to get in the New Bizarro Author Series. In this case, you get a one-eared painter and a six-armed, elephant-headed Hindu god in a plot straight out of a Lethal Weapon movie.

Crime fiction is my bread and butter so I was all-in on this book pretty quickly. How could I go wrong with a post-impressionist painter/burned out cop and a Hindu god with a head of an elephant going up against a drug ring consisting of flamingos and the mysterious M?

This was a pretty quick read and there's very little to complain about other than the typos, but I assume the mobi file I have isn't the final version. If you're into detective thrillers, one-eared painters, or Hinduism, this is the Bizarro book for you. Four out of five stars.

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Rainbows Suck

Rainbows SuckRainbows Suck by Madeleine Swann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deranged rainbows from space turn people into living works of art and force them to compete on television. Tilli's wish is granted when she joins their ranks and meets Felicite, a woman made of diamonds. Will their relationship survive the dark side of fame?

Here we are, another book in the 2015 New Bizarro Author series. Rainbows Suck might be the most bizarre bizarro book I've yet read.

Rainbows Suck, while on the surface is a bizarro love story between two living works of art, is really a book about the dark side of fame. Tilli and Felicite's relationship is under intense scrutiny from the start and Tilli's damaging past doesn't do her any favors either. The book actually reminds me of an episode of VH1's Behind the Music at times.

Madeleine Swann's use of nightmarish imagery and rainbows from space does a phenomenal job of presenting the destructive side of fame. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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