25th of October 2019

Good evening folks, the last couple of weeks have been busy to say the least but not with writing. Despite that I’ve still managed to get words written. Mostly on CS1, which I’ve decided to add an element to which changes the entire tone of the story, but I think it works. It just means I’ve got to go over and start the editing process again but I think it’s worth it.

This week I’ve managed to write about 2000 words but I’ve not kept up with tracking day by day.  I know how many words I’ve written on CS1 so that lets me figure it out. I still don’t think I’m going to hit the word count I’ve set for the year but NaNoWriMo is just a week away now (holy shit! how close is it!), so hopefully I’ll be close to getting the word count I had targeted.

Books wise I’ve not made as much progress as I’d have liked over the last few months but I’m trying to pick that up. With that in mind I’ve started reading The First Cut by Chuck Buda. I’ve read a few of Chuck Buda’s weird western Son of Earp series which I enjoyed but I’m loving The First Cut.

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Right folks, I’m gonna call it a night and spend the rest of the evening chilling out. Have a good one, folks!

Anarch by Dan Abnett

This isn’t exactly going to be a book review. More of a case of how I feel about this book and what I hope for the series.

Anarch is the latest Gaunts Ghosts book by Dan Abnett. I’m a big fan of this series and was super excited when books started coming out from it again. The Warmaster was fantastic and Anarch rolls right on from the end of that book.

I liked the direction Abnett took Anarch. He teased us with the return of a character in The Warmaster, which was a bit of a rollercoaster throughout Anarch (trying not to spoiler here), and took us in a few directions I wasn’t expecting.

Something I’m kind of hoping is that Abnett has an endgame in sight. Don’t get me wrong, a big part of me would read these books for the rest of my life, but I wonder where else Abnett can take them. Hey, if he’s got an ace up his sleeve that’ll let him write these books for years, cool, but I’ve got the feeling from these last two books, well at least the last three if I’m honest, that he’s bringing it in to an ending.

I haven’t looked up any details online. If Dan Abnett is bringing these to an end I don’t want to know until I’ve read that last sentence.

9th of October 2019

Evening, folks. I am super knackered tonight. It’s been a long but decent day where I wrote 1472 words on the fan fiction piece.

I was planning on getting back to CS1 but I just needed to write today. Going to the Write-In tonight was good. It was low-key tonight but still good. I got a good few words written then and during my lunch break. I also did some minor NaNo planning this evening as well. I’ve got a couple of ideas that have really tickled my fancy so far, but until I start writing them it’s hard to know which ones will take off.

Audiobook wise I listened to Armand Rosamilia’s Darlene Bobich Zombie Killer today. This is a rare occasion where I’d forgotten that I’d read this one already. Within ten minutes or so I’d realised that I knew the story, but it was still damn good listening to it. I recall liking the way it was put together. I hadn’t come across anything like it before and it serves as a real nice little taster for what Armand Rosamilia has in store for this series (it’s one of his Dying Days books). I am looking forward to checking out more of these in the coming months.

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Although I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks recently I really need to get my head into a book again soon. I’ve got Appetite by Anita Cassidy that I started recently that I’m going to dive into. This isn’t my normal genre but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been to numerous Write-in’s with Anita and she is a fantastic human being who has been good to me over the years and I’m so pleased to see her doing well.

Right folks, time to call it a night. I’m going to read a little of Appetite and then get to bed. Have an awesome one, everybody!

Top Ten Of The Year 2018

Here is my Top Ten Books Of 2018. These aren’t books that were released in 2018, they’re the ones that I read. Some of them I have reviewed and will link in those reviews with the respective books.

Going off my Goodreads challenge I read forty-nine books in 2018. I had a few moments during the year where I was finding it hard to read so hopefully this year I’ll hit and pass the fifty books I’ve set in my challenge for 2019.

Lets get stuck in to the list:

Number Ten: Off Season By Jack Ketchum

I brought this one on audio after Jack Ketchum sadly passed away. I’d heard about him and an interview with him on The Horror Show With Brian Keene podcast. It was a choice between Off Season and The Girl Next Door. I kinda tossed a coin and went with Off Season which I’m really happy with, although The Girl Next Door will be checked out this year. Off Season is a fantastic tale that isn’t scared to give gut punches and as a reader you take it because Ketchum writes the story beautifully and you just keep turning the pages, or listening in my case.

Number Nine: The Malignant Dead by CL Raven

The Malignant Dead brought tears to my eyes but it also made me laugh. That’s something CL Raven do, they flip that coin really well and The Malignant Dead does that very well. They also transport you into the city of Edinburgh beautifully, you feel you are there and can easily picture these characters in these locations. It is a heartbreaking story but thats because CL Raven bring these characters to life so thoroughly.

Number Eight: Forest Underground by Lydian Faust

This was one I went into without no real knowledge of it. I’d seen people speaking nothing but good things about it and I saw that Pippa Bailey was the narrator of the audio book. I’d met Pippa at the launch of the Sparks anthology that we both have stories in and I wanted to support her as well. The story itself is two that are woven together very well and gives a great outcome at the end of the book, but it still left me wanting more. The characters keep you guessing and there were a few moments where I wasn’t sure what one characters reality was.

Number Seven: White by Tim Lebbon

White was a fun and fast story to read. Tim Lebbon gives a very tight and well told story of an apocalypse that has left people stranded and how these people deal with their plight. The bleakness of this one struck me. If something is bleak it doesn’t tend to get my attention but Tim Lebbon puts in just enough hope to keep that bleakness at bay.

Number Six: The Log House by Baylea Hart

I first heard of The Log House while at Bristol Horror Con in 2017. Baylea Hart was on a panel and gave a brief description of her book and it sounded good. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a post-apocalyptic story which has a protagonist who I didn’t like as a person, but I was quickly hooked on the journey she was taking and the world she was part of and what happened in the characters past. Baylea Hart builds a world that is very seductive and easy to fall into.

The author who I read the most in 2018 was Brian Keene: City of the Dead, The Complex, Ghoul and Dark Hollow.

Number Five: Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski

Where do I start with Billy and the Cloneasaurus? In my review I said it was 1984 meets The Lego Movie, and I still stand by that. It’s got this optimism to it that masks the real problems. This book had me hooked from the first sentence. It’s got a great energy to it, and has left a lasting impression on me. Even if the ending was a kick in the gut!

Number Four: Dark Hollow by Brian Keene

There are so many reasons why Dark Hollow spoke to me. From how the story is structured and paced to the multiple conflicts of the protagonist. Brian Keene really does build this character beautifully and its also very raw in many places. I’d recommend reading this one and then listening to an episode of The Horror Show with Brian Keene were he talks about this story. The big bad of this story is something I’d not come across before and found it fascinating. This is another story where the ending was a blow to the gut. So far it’s my favourite Brian Keene story.

Number Three: What Good Girls Do by Jonathan Butcher

Okay, where do I start with What Good Girls Do? Like Forest Underground I went into this one blind. Part of it was I saw it was getting a lot of praise, another part is again I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the narrator, Tara Court, and wanted to show some support to her. Another part was it’s a The Sinister Horror Company book, like Forest Underground and I was impressed with that one. So I went in blind. This is the most brutal book, movie, tv show, that I’ve even consumed. It doesn’t hold back and deals with a topic that most people blatantly ignore. Those who do know about it don’t want to talk about it. Jonathan Butcher doesn’t baulk with this story, and in lesser hands I think it would have been a disaster. But Butcher handles such a delicate topic with a skill that I think few have. This is a fantastic book, but not one I’d say I enjoyed but. It is one I’m pleased I listened to because it is so beautifully written and deals with something I think we as a society need to be more aware of.

Number Two: The Human Santapede by Adam Millard

A big change of pace from What Good Girls Do, we have The Human Santapede by Adam Millard. This is a book I find myself reluctant to talk too much about because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. All I’ll say is Santa has a problem and sends an elf off to figure out the mystery. Adam Millard goes full speed with this one. It’s like he wanted to write the most out there Christmas book ever and had fun while doing it. I think I laughed at something on every page! This was definitely the funniest book I read in 2018, probably ever. If you want a giggle, buy this book!

Number One: The Silence By Tim Lebbon

Here we are, number one in my top ten of 2018. I brought The Silence on audiobook when I learnt there was going to be a movie of it and I wanted to check the book out first. This book rattled me. There was three distinct moments where I had to hit pause and stop listening to it for that day. I think part of the reason it struck me so hard was because it is set in the UK and peoples reaction to the threat in the story felt very real. It is strikingly well written with very real characters whose pain you feel as they make their journey. It’s written with a skill that I admire. Lebbon tears the lives of these characters apart with such a deft hand that it’s still brutal but the build up to the hardness of the story is as smooth as silk and this brings you into these moments without missing a beat. Its become an instant favourite of mine, I even brought a paperback which I’ve gotten signed.

There it is, my top ten books of 2018. 2018 was the first year I really started reading horror and it was quite a year. Lets see how 2019 compares.

Just to wrap up the post I wanted to give a few honourable mentions. If this had been the best fifteen books of 2018 these would have made the list.

In no particular order:

Bleeding Empire- CL Raven

Aliens:Bug Hunt- Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Fur- Matthew Cash

IT- Stephen King

Never Forget- Lisa Cutts

 

 

 

 

Waterstones

I needed to replace my dictionary/thesaurus recently (the kitten destroyed my old one). I was going to just pop onto Amazon and get it but I remembered I had points on my Waterstones card and decided to cash those in. It was only a couple quid and I doubt I’ll add to them in the near future simply because I haven’t shopped in Waterstones for a long time. Each time I go in there for a book I’m finding it very uninspiring. Dictionary aside, I can’t remember the last novel I brought in Waterstones. I think the last comic was the paperback of Civil War 2.

One of the reasons I don’t shop there is I never find anything I want to read. The Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy sections seem to be being squished into one which is dominated by Fantasy. And most of the books in the horror section are still the heavyweights in the genre, there was a lot of King.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those books deserve to be there. Stephen King is the writer of his generation and one of the all time greats, but there should also be room for other voices in the genre. The person who served me even agreed about how much of the big names were there and that was it. I can’t speak for Science Fiction as I haven’t read any in quite some time and I’ve never been a fantasy reader.

I’m also not reading much mainstream fiction at the moment. Most of the books on my to-read list have been books I’ve brought at Horror Cons or from discovering writers via podcasts like Arm Cast and The Horror Show With Brian Keene. Some of the more mainstream ones I’m listening to the audiobooks of anyway. And to be honest, most of the books I’m hearing that appeal to me aren’t in shops, definitely not here in the UK so most of the books I’m buying, outside of cons, are via amazon. You’re not going to get extreme horror, or books by small publishers or indie authors in Waterstones or, well Waterstones is the only real bookseller here in the UK now. We’ve got places like The Works and WH Smiths that sell books in addition to supermarkets but that’s about it.

I haven’t wondered around a bookstore in awe for a long time. That excitement of searching for something to pull me into a new universe hasn’t been there for years. I get that buzz from going to the cons and finding books at those to read. That, to me, is where I’m getting the fix I need.

Horror That’s Getting Under My Skin

Up until recently I’ve rarely seen a horror movie that got under my skin. I say movie because I’ve only started delving into horror novels recently.

Aside from being grossed out by the odd scene here and there I’ve never really felt uncomfortable in a way that I now know horror should do. The first I noticed this was last year when I saw The Ritual. This is a film that was based on the novel by Adam Nevill. When I watched that film in the cinema I remember feeling a long way out of my comfort zone, but I still got through it and really enjoyed the movie (I’m looking forward to reading the book itself soon as well).

This week I’ve started listening to The Silence by Tim Lebbon. Tim Lebbon is a name I keep seeing pop up, and after meeting him at Bristol horror con last year and hearing him on a couple of podcasts (Three Guys With Beards & The Horror Show With Brian Keene) I knew I needed to check out some of his stuff. At the con I brought off him his book After The War, but knowing what a slow reader I was and that The Silence will be released as a movie sometime this year I believe, I wanted to read that one. So I got it on audiobook and although I’m only half way through it, it’s got under my skin. I thought The Ritual had an unsettling affect on me, but The Silence has gone deep. I almost stopped listening to it a quarter of the way through. It is so carefully crafted to trigger the readers own fears, even to the point where it feels like Lebbon’s written it just for me. Some of the elements here feel personal in a way I’ve not felt from a book before. That’s not to say books haven’t had an effect on me, because they have. Hell, a few have had me chocking up while others I’ve been punching them air in triumph and celebration.

As I was listening today I was thinking I’ll be finished it by the time I finished work at 3pm tomorrow, but I had to leave a day between the quarter way point of it and where I got to today, so I might resume it Monday and let the events in it sink in a little.

This book is really getting under my skin, and although it’s making me feel this way that’s what I feel is good horror. For horror to really work it has to make you feel how this is feeling. If I had to give this a rating right now it’ll easily be five stars.

I don’t have any ideas how this book will end, but I’ll be going in headfirst to find out.

The Warmaster by Dan Abnett

I’ve just finished The Warmaster by Dan Abnett and wow! What a book! I loved how Abnett put this together and how it was tied into Salvations Reach (of which I’m glad I listened to immediately before embarking on The Warmaster). I’d guess there’s a lot more connections in the books that have lead up to The Warmaster, but it’s been a few years since I’ve read them. (I’m really hoping they come up on Audible because I really want to read them again, and listening is quicker for me as I can listen while at work).

The Warmaster picks up for Gaunt and his Ghosts right after their mission to Salvations Reach, but all is not right with their return.

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Such a beautiful edition.

Now, I am a huge fan of this series of books, this being the fourteenth, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one since I first heard about it a little while ago. There was a gap of time between Salvations Reach and The Warmaster, but it was worth the wait. Dan Abnett really turns things up to eleven in this book. He pushes characters into places that I wasn’t expecting, but that said I wasn’t really sure what to expect. With the Gaunt’s Ghosts books it feels like each book goes in somewhat of a different direction. This one is no different. A lot of the events in this book I didn’t see coming or where they were going to go.  A lot of the characters had their lives turned upside down and Abnett wasn’t scared to kill any of his characters. That is something I learnt a long time ago about Abnett with this series. He is not afraid to kill the most beloved of characters, often in brutal and unfair ways. Even in war where people die for what can be the most silly of reasons, some of the deaths in these books have been a huge kick in the gut. Even when a character doesn’t die, but they are pushed into something harsh and tough to stomach it feels the same as when a loved character dies.

That is one of Abnett’s biggest strengths I think. He can write these stories with a huge cast of characters and you either love or hate them, with the odd middle of the road character in between. You get their motivations, you get their mentalities. It all works very well.

This book really opened up a whole can of hell yeah! And it puts so much out on the table for future novels that has left me bouncing and determined to re-read the previous books again in the new year.

There are many reasons why Dan Abnett is one of my favourite writers, the Gaunt’s Ghosts series is one of them. Beautifully written, to the point where you’re almost there when the las-bolts are flying.

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***(Very Minor) Spoilers***

If you’ve read these books you’ll know there have been three characters that have left over the years that had nothing to do with dying, although one did eventually die if I remember right, but the two that always sits in my mind when I’m reading these books are Brin Milo and a scout called Mkvenner (I can’t for the life of me remember his first name). Both these characters went off for different reasons. For Milo, he went with Saint Sabbat, and I’ve heard rumours that Abnett has always intended Milo and the Ghosts to get back to each other at some point. With The Warmaster, the Saint is on the same planet as Gaunt and his Ghosts. When I found this out I was waiting for them to come together, but it didn’t happen. I really hope Abnett does so in the next book, because aside from the return of Mkvenner, that is one of the moments in this series of novels that I am eagerly waiting for.

I think Dan Abnett is setting up to bring this series to a close, to a point where the Sabbat Worlds Crusade is either won or lost.