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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Interview with the charming and unpredictable Author Jasper Bark!

Hey Jasper! It has been almost exactly one year since you last graced the flock with your presence? Looks like you’ve had a busy year. You have a new book, Quiet Places, a graphic novel, Parassassination, a new monthly webcomic, Fear Fix and you started a Pateron page. But first, the question we’ve all be wanting to ask since you were last your hair naturally curly? And how do you combat fizziness?
Jasper: Actually, my hair’s not natural at all. My real hair fell out when I was a very young child, following a traumatic incident when I was accidentally exposed to a late uncle’s stash of naked Liberace porn, while hiding under his bed, during an ill-advised game of sardines.

The local Scout troop was so moved by my condition that they hosted a number of yard sales and sponsored walks to raise money to help me. This money ended up going to the stepfather of a school friend of mine, who worked as a research scientist at British Nuclear Fuels. He discovered that a mutant strain of irradiated crabgrass not only gains a mild sentience when exposed to radium, it also resembles curly human hair. He donated his first test subject to me.

We’ve been together ever since. Of course now the poor thing is getting a little grey around the edges and isn’t quite the sprightly mop of mutant crabgrass that it was in our youth, but it still likes nothing more than to curl up at the bottom of my bed, with a saucer of curdled milk, at the end of the day.

Sharon: We’re gonna tackle each of your projects. Let’s start Quiet Places. It is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle. What is the Heresy Series and how does Quiet Places fit in. Will there be more novellas?
Jasper: The Heresy Series is an ongoing Story Cycle based around the Qu’rm Saddic Heresy, this is an ancient and blasphemous set of beliefs that have been feared and persecuted since the beginning of time. It was thought of as old even in the early days of Ancient Mesopotamia, which is considered the birthplace of civilization. Very few records of the heresy survive the last vestiges of it were stamped out in the middle ages, and it is all but forgotten today, but it still has the power to illicit fear and outrage in those who know of its existence.

Forbidden knowledge and forgotten beliefs fascinate me, so I have devoted quite a few stories to this little-known religion, from the distant past. Like Brian Keene’s Labyrinth mythos, Laird Barron’s Old Leech stories and H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, the stories can be read in any order, but with everyone you read, you’ll learn a little more about the grand, mythopoeic tapestry into which they’re woven.

In a recent review of Quiet Places, the author and critic Dave Dubrow described the Qu’rm Saddic Heresey as

“the true story of the universe and what lies behind it. Once the door to Bark’s mythos opens, it sucks you in and keeps you from putting the book down in a way horror fans haven’t experienced since Lovecraft started putting tentacles and unpronounceable consonants together decades ago.”
Which was rather kind of him.

Like all of the story cycle, Quiet Places uses the heresy as a backdrop, you don’t need to know anything about it to enjoy the story. It does fill in more of the history though in a slow-burning tale that builds to one of my most shocking endings.

Sharon: What folklore did you borrow from for Quiet Places?
Jasper: As it’s set in the Scottish Highlands, I did a lot of research into Scottish folklore. So, tales of the Will o’ the Wisp, and the Gaelic Teine Biorach (which means ‘sharp fire’), strange apparitions that haunt moors, plains and other lonely places were something of an inspiration. As were tales of the Cù-Sith and Phantom Black Hounds, these were psychopomps, creatures which accompany the lost souls of the dead to the afterlife.

In addition to that, I drew on a modern day folk story, that of the ABC, which stands for Alien Big Cat. These are large feline creatures, similar to pumas and jaguars, that are regularly spotted, and sometimes even photographed, in the wilds of the British countryside. Animals that are not known to be native to British shores, but have nonetheless been seen by enough eyewitnesses to give a bit of credence to the claim that they exist. 
By Midnightblueowl at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Sharon: You wrote the graphic novel Parassissnation. Tell us a bit about it.
Jasper: It’s a time traveling, political thriller, set on the distant planet of Sedulon, and it’s not like anything you’ve ever read before. Three possible futures hang in the balance, two end in total annihilation, and one assassin’s bullet will decide, as a rogue band of time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds.

It has a lot of bizarre characters you won’t have encountered before, such as Doc Hydrabus - a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and future selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time. Cassindra who is 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world. And Rushaar and Shartara, alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia.

Each of them must put aside their differences and come together to find a new future for all their worlds, one that lies in the most unexpected of all possible places.

Jasper Bark - Writer
Alfa Robbi - Artist
Bolt 01 - Letters
September 18, 2017

Publisher: Markosia Enterprises Ltd
66 pages

Three futures hang in the balance.

Two end in total annihilation.

One assassin’s bullet will decide.

On the planet Sedulon, a rogue band of renegade time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds.

Doc Hydrabus - a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and future selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time

Cassindra - 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world.

Rushaar and Shartara - alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia.

The Parassassin - he will take the shot that decides the destinies of everyone in the galaxy.

Politics and parody collide on the bleeding edge of science fiction, in one of the most sh
ocking and innovative thrillers you’re going to read this year.
and all good book and comic shops worldwide.

: How long did it take to bring your story to life in graphic novel format? What were some of the unexpected challenges you ran into during the process?
Jasper: It took quite a long time, as the story was serialized in the award-winning online comic ‘Aces Weekly’. This is an amazing publication put together by the legendary artist David Lloyd, who drew V for Vendetta and designed the Guy Fawkes mask that is so popular with protestors all over the world, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring revolts.

The main challenges we faced were getting the pages out on a weekly basis over an 8 month period. This was a big commitment from the team and we were always skating on the edge of a deadline. Luckily David, and everyone else at Aces Weekly were always very patient and very helpful. I should also mention the incredible work done by the amazingly talented artist Alfa Robbi, who illustrated the strip, and our wonderful letterer Bolt 01, who always went above and beyond.

Sharon: Your character Dr. Hydrabus was caught in a worm hole generator explosion and now constantly splits into his future and past selves. Every 3 to 4 hours he reabsorbs them and splits again. Would you like to live like your character Dr. Hydrabus for one day?

Jasper: I can quite honestly say I wouldn’t. Aside from it being a rather strange, disorienting, and painful thing to go through, I think it would be rather unnerving to be confronted with so many past and future versions of yourself. We tend to find our own worst faults most irritating in other people, so can you imagine how vexing it would be to be faced with a crowd of mirror versions of yourself?

Most people can’t stand hearing the sound of their own voice on a recording, or the way they look on video, so imagine seeing and hearing it right in front of you in the flesh. You’d be constantly reminded of what an idiot you were when you were younger, and how decrepit you’re going to look in ten or fifteen years time. Can you imagine it? No wonder Doc Hydrabus considers it such a curse.

Sharon: Looks like you caught the comic bug because you also have a free monthly webcomic on your website called Fear Fix. What do you want to say about it that would make our readers want to check it out?
Jasper: Fear Fix is an homage to the amazing black and white comic magazines of the 70s, like Warren Comics’ Creepy and Eerie, or Skywald’s Psycho and Scream, as well as the amazing EC comics from the 50s and even DC’s horror comics like House of Mystery and House of Secrets. Each month it will feature a new self-contained stand-alone story of unspeakable horror, written by me and drawn by some of the best new artists from both mainstream and indie comics.

Like all of the horror comics I mentioned above, Fear Fix has a hideous horror host who introduces all the stories. Only the creepy keeper of this comic crypt is yours truly. That’s right, I’ve stepped into my own comic pages to become a character myself.

The first installment is up right now, it’s called A Bad Girl’s Guide to Making a Killing and you can read it right here.
Look forward to seeing you there.

Sharon: How did you decide on the art style you ended up going with? Will you use the same artist for each story? Who is your artist?
Jasper: The art style was decided by the two amazingly talented artists I worked with on this story. The intro and the outro pages are drawn by my long time collaborator, the quite awesomely talented Rob Moran, Rob and I will definitely work together again. The main story was drawn by an artist called Emily Hare, who is also ridiculously talented. She drew this story under the pen name Manon, but sadly, she decided, straight afterwards, that she didn’t want to be a comic artist and wanted to concentrate on her illustration work. Which is a sad loss to the world of graphic novels, but it does mean that Fear Fix showcases her one and only foray into comics, something that I am extremely honoured by.

Sharon: I asked this last year because Halloween was right around the corner. What are your family’s costume plans this year? You’d make a great Wonder Woman…just saying...
Jasper: Why, that’s most kind of you to say. We’re still making plans on costumes. I do know that my youngest daughter wants to go as a rather sinister looking Red Riding Hood, but the rest of us are still undecided.

Sharon: What’s for dinner tonight?
Jasper: I’ve developed a bit of a taste for the souls of alcoholic parking attendants of late, it’s the bleakness of their existence that adds all the flavour I think, but it’s a bit of an acquired taste, and they’re rather hard to come by, when they’re not in season.

So I think I’ll probably just go with roasted mediterranean vegetables, fired halloumi cheese and chickpeas and cous-cous.

Sharon: You live in England? If so, what is your favorite English phrase? Do you have a favorite American one?
Jasper: I don’t know if I have a favourite phrase, I like old antiquated English phrases of the kind the author P. G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves, would have used, such as ‘what ho!’, ‘pip, pip’ and ‘chin, chin’. I also like Scottish phrases like ‘peelie wally’, which means pale and ill, and ‘proper braw’ which means awesome. Unfortunately as I was born south of the Scottish border, I can never use any of those words in conversation. Attempting to do so, would be like a white guy from the Upper East side of Manhattan trying to talk like an African American kid from the West Coast.

My father, a blue collar guy with a black belt in swearing, also had his own unique turn of phrase. One example would be, whenever my sister and I were goofing around or messing about, he would shout: “you pair better stop pissballing and fartarsing around!!”

I don’t know if I have a favourite American phrase either, but one that sprang to mind, when you asked the question, comes from old films from the 40s and 50s. It usually occurs when some poor sap has riled the local bully. The great galoot, will chomp on his cigar, push his bowler to the back of his head, and lean into the poor guy, declaring, threateningly: “why I oughta...!” If he decides to pop the guy one, it will be followed by the phrase: “y’know what? I will too!”

Sometimes, I toy with the idea of writing a novel about a homicidal surgeon who removes hearts, entitled: ‘Why Aorta!’. But luckily, my meds usually kick in time for me to see sense and get on with something else.

Rapid Fire:
Sharon: Right handed or Left handed?
Jasper: I’m actually a bit ambidextrous.

Sharon: lick it or bite it?
Jasper: Lick it definitely, I like to prolong the pleasure for as long as possible.

Sharon: front row or back row?
Jasper: I’m a front row kinda guy, I like to be up close and personal. But I have quite an experimental past, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the back row as well (just don’t tell my wife...)

Sharon: Penguins or Hawk?
Jasper: Hawk, I love birds of prey.

Sharon: Little Bo Peep or Miss Muffet?
Jasper: For all kinds of reasons, that you couldn’t possible print, it definitely has to be Miss Muffet.

Jasper: Before I go, I’d also like to mention my brand spanking new Patreon page. If you’ve enjoyed this interview, or any of my books and comics, I’d be very obliged if you’d go check it out here. The page is a way for me to get closer to the people who read and support my work. It’s go some quite unique perks for everyone who gets involved. So I’d love to hear from you and what you think.

Thanks for having me. I had a blast.

by Jasper Bark
September 29, 2017
123 pages
In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born.

The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip.

It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, with the whole town against her, she must ally herself with an ancient woodland force and trace Dunballan’s secret back to its bitter origins. Those origins lie within the McCavendish family history, and a blasphemous heresy that stretches back to the beginning of time. Some truths are too terrible to face, and the darkest of these lie waiting for Sally, in the Quiet Places. 

Quiet Places is folk horror at its most cosmic and terrifying. Blending folklore with psychological terror, it contains stories within stories, each one leading to revelations more unsettling than the last. Revelations that will change the way you view your place in the cosmos, and haunt you, relentlessly, long after you have put down this book.

Quiet Places is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle and has been substantially rewritten and revised for this edition.

About the Author:
Jasper Bark finds writing author biographies and talking about himself in the third person faintly embarrassing. Telling you that he’s an award-winning author of four cult novels including the highly acclaimed ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’, just sounds like boasting. Then he has to mention that he’s written 12 children’s books and hundreds of comics and graphic novels and he wants to just curl up. He cringes when he has to reveal that his work has been translated into nine different languages and is used in schools throughout the UK to help improve literacy, or that he was awarded the This Is Horror Award for his last anthology ‘Dead Air’. Maybe he’s too British, or maybe he just needs a good enema, but he’s glad this bio is now over.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Book Review: A Gift of Ghosts: (Tassamara Book 1) by Sarah Wynde

A Gift of Ghosts: (Tassamara Book 1)
by Sarah Wynde
March 8, 2014
Pages: 191
Akira has secrets. But so does the town of Tassamara.

Akira Malone believes in the scientific method, evolution, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. And ghosts.

All the logic and reason in the world can’t protect her from the truth—she can see and communicate with spirits. But Akira is sure that her ability is just a genetic quirk and the ghosts she encounters simply leftover electromagnetic energy. Dangerous electromagnetic energy.

Zane Latimer believes in telepathy, precognition, auras, and that playing Halo with your employees is an excellent management technique. He also thinks that maybe, just maybe, Akira can help his family get in touch with their lost loved ones.

But will Akira ever be able to face her fears and accept her gift? Or will Zane’s relatives be trapped between life and death forever?

One little comment in an article she wrote, and her whole career is ruined. Being a physicist and working on her research was the most important thing to Akira with the exception of hiding the fact that she can see and talk with ghosts. When the article threatens her job, she decides to accept an interview with a company in Florida. When she is interviewed for the job, she is unclear what exactly the company does and what they would want her to do. Zane is surprised by Akira and drawn to her at the same time. General Directions, Inc. has many special projects involving psychic gifts and Zane is hoping that Akira will be able to join the ranks and help his family talk with those they’ve lost.

This was a delightful story, full of some of my favorite things; psychics, ghosts and a good romance. The setting of the story, a little town in Florida knows as Tassamara sounded so quaint and peaceful, painting a lovely background for the story. I look forward to checking out the next book in the series by Wynde.

Getting 5 sheep

Denise B

About the Author:

Sarah Wynde hates writing and frequently gives it up as an unhealthy addiction. She just as frequently starts again because daydreaming is more fun when she can share her imaginary worlds with other people. She likes to think of the stories she writes as unexpected fiction—bending, blending, and occasionally breaking genres.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: Black Butler by Yana Toboso

April 8, 2014
Book 1 of 41 in Black Butler (Issues) (41 Book Series)
192 pages
Publisher: Yen Press World
Just a stone's throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria's faithful servant...and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master's wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London's underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true...or at least, too good to be human...

Since it’s October, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at manga series with a horror bent this month. Some of the more interesting takes on horror staples I’ve seen have been in manga, and it’s really interesting to see what different creators do with what they’re given, and how tropes differ and are the same in eastern and western cultures. This week we’ll be looking at the ongoing series Black Butler.

Set in Victorian England, Black Butler follows the adventures of Earl Ciel Phantomhive, a young boy who is not only the head of an impressive business empire but also known in certain circles as the Queen’s Guard Dog, who solves crimes that take place in the criminal underworld. What makes things particularly interesting is that Ciel’s butler is not only very attentive, but also very good at his good…supernaturally good. You see, Ciel’s family was murdered and his house destroyed before the series starts, and his butler Sebastian is actually a demon who is working with Sebastian to bring down those who attempted to destroy Ciel’s family…in exchange for Ciel’s soul.

There’s so much going on in this thing, I’m going to try to break it down:

The good: The plot is really interesting for a long form series. It’s not quite episodic, but there are mini arcs within the larger problem. Also important to note – when a longer series like this hinges on a particular issue (what’s going to happen when the demonic contract comes due), it’s a pretty good bet to say that we won’t actually see that play out until the last volume, or at least the last few. So instead of reading with the intent of focusing on that one plot device, kick back and enjoy it for the horror tropes…because oh mah gawd, the horror tropes are awesome.

What’s intriguing is visually this looks somewhat like a shojo 
series, and you get a lot of the smiliar tropes (Ciel’s cutesy, loving fiancé, the huge amount of decadent visual imagery, the slender, beautiful antagonists of varying types), but it’s very much rooted in plot and the macabre. There are severely uncomfortable plot elements – what Sebastian also rescues Ciel from is being abused and enslaved by a Satanic cult of aristocrats. It’s not specifically stated what kind of abuse he undergoes, but there are flashbacks to being strapped to an alter and there are some asides by former cult members that are particularly uncomfortable if you think about it for more than three seconds.
This series also rocks at revealing the unexpected – incompetent servants become amazing at other things, the adorbable fiancé turns out to have one of the best character twists on the loli type that I’ve read in a long time, and the creepy undertaker takes on a whole new level of creepy at a certain point, and there are lots of interconnections that will rock your socks. It’s also really, really good at giving new twists on old tropes. There’s a really interesting take on creepy circuses, there’s zombies on an ocean liner, an unnerving look at secret societies in a boys’ school, and a truly unique look at witchcraft and werewolves in a haunted forest mixed with pre-WWI-ish technology. The creator makes huge use of the time period (Queen Victoria shows up for some amusing and unnerving asides), and the horror and action interludes are just drawn so well. The gore isn’t too disgusting but achieves maximum effect for a teen series. The characters are also pretty good for this kind of series – Sebastian can be extremely uncomfortable knowing what he is, but you can’t deny the odd friendship that he and Ciel have, for better or worse. Ciel can be arrogant and manipulative, but also incredibly vulnerable. Everyone has some sort of high point to their character and their own intrigues, so it is interesting to watch everything unfold.

The bad: However, you have to stick with it because the pacing is so freaking slow at times. I’ve stayed with it mainly because the pros are so good and original, but there are times when I really wish things would get to the point and get a move on. A lot of episodic manga has interludes, so I’m used to that, but sometimes it seems that getting to the actual plot elements are a windy road that isn’t necessary. It’s strange, because as much as it plays on tension and cliffhangers and kind of seems to push forward momentum and urgency (especially in locked room mystery sequence), it really does feel like it drags between action sequences. The places each volume leaves you off at also can be weird – in some volumes one plot arc ends and other picks up mid-volume but can’t really develop much because of the volume size (yes, I know these are released as single chapters monthly in Japan. Let me tell you how horrible I am at reading single chapter anything because of my impatience). 
Some of the humor is also hit or miss with me (this could just be a me thing because I’m old), but where I can enjoy or at least acknowledge ‘okay, yeah, I get why this is here’ in other series, it doesn’t seem to meld as well in this one for me. The balance seems off. And the problem with this is that I could see readers not giving it the chance before it gets really good. I hated the servants from the get go and felt there existence made no sense with how amazing Sebastian is at everything, until a certain reveal..but it takes like seven or eight volumes to get there. Same with the fiancé. I could see tossing it aside as a typical Victorian era horror series and missing all the really interesting stuff and great action sequences.

I’m also really not a fan of the reaper characters (save for one that I think makes for an interesting plot twist). While an interesting concept in their own right, I don’t know that you need them to legitimize that this is a paranormal series – Sebastian on his own does that. Especially with how most of the mysteries are also routed in a combination of paranormal and real world methods, it just seems to add more noise to the mix. It also contributes to the kind of slightly missed humor beats for me, as well, and tends to just be so over the top that it takes me out of actual story arc. I get why they’re there and all of that, but I can’t say that I don’t page faster whenever they show up.

Ick factors: This is a definite horror series, so if seeing bloodshed and gore illustrated on the page aren’t your thing, you may want to give a pass. Also keep in mind that Ciel is thirteen and is, more or less, treated as an adult because of his station, so he’s thrust into some uncomfortable situations at times. If depictions of the occult aren’t your thing, probably also not for you simply because of how much the series hinges on those references. That being said, I personally don’t think it’s horrifically jarring or any worse than stuff on tv. Definitely lighter than a lot of horror movies. If in doubt, do what I do and see if the library has it, then try the first three or four volumes to get a feel.

Manga or Anime: To be honest, I usually get manga over the anime, but in reading the synopsis and talking to people who have seen it, it looks like the anime changes a lot of the things I like about the series. If you just want a streamlined version or want to see how it hits you, go anime, but if you’re willing to stick with it or read it a couple volumes at a time whenever you’re feeling like it, I’d stay with the manga.

Disclaimer: I’ve also only read this series up to vol 23, because that’s what I’ve been able to get so far. Whenever I can keep going on it, I’ll probably give an updated review.

3.5 Sheep

About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Celebrating Halloween Author Nancy Gideon's way! (Prince of Fools book tour) + giveaway

Nancy Gideon's Favorite Creatures and Things that go Bump in the Night (and where to find them!) 

On Halloween, thoughts turn to the unnatural and macabre. Here's my Go-To list of movies, television and books: 

1. Ghosts: Poltergeist, American Horror Story: Murder House and Hotel (TV), Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, The Others, Ghostbusters, Woman in Black, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Henry James’s Turn of the Screw 

2. Witches/Magic: Hexed, Practical Magic, Hansel and Gretel, Magic, The Witches of Eastwick, Peter Staub’s Shadowland, American Horror Story: Coven (TV), Charmed (TV) 

3. Gremlins, Ghoolies and Goblins: Gremlins, Critters, Sleepy Hollow (movie and TV), Labyrinth, Ernest Scared Stupid 

4. Creepy Creatures: The Thing, Cabin in the Woods, American Horror Story: Asylum (TV), The Strain (TV), Evil Dead (TV), Army of Darkness 

5. Fantasy Happily-Ever-Afters: Once Upon a Time (TV), The Tenth Kingdom, Highlander (TV), Beauty and the Beast (in any format!) 

6. Things Future Past and Out of this World: Alien series (Aliens being the all-time BEST!), V (TV), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The X-Files (TV), Cassandra Clare’s Immortal Instruments series, Arrival, Dark Tower, Anything Marvel and some DC 

7. Preternatural Beasties with a Bite: Supernatural (TV), Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Wolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Kindred (TV), Penny Dreadful (TV), True Blood (TV) 

8. A Killer Walks Among Us: Scream, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silence of the Lamb’s, Hannibal (TV) 

9. The Devil Made Them Do It: 666 Park Avenue (TV), Constantine (movies and TV), Ira Levine’s Rosemary’s Baby, Stephen King’s The Stand 

10. Dead but Not Forgotten: Walking Dead (TV), Dawn of the Dead, Shawn of the Dead, Gena Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland, 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland, World War Z 

11. It’s a Holiday! Halloween, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (TV), Halloweentown, Nightmare Before Christmas, Tom Tryon’s Harvest Home 

12. Anything Dean Koontz!

 Halloween Playlist

Prince of Fools (House of Terriot Book 3) by Nancy Gideon
Oct 23, 2017
Genre: Paranormal (shapeshifter)
Number of pages: 296
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Patricia Lazarus

He’s afraid to take the leap . . . She’s afraid of the fall

A dark prince to her Cinderella barmaid . . .

Rico . . . Prince in the shapeshifter House of Terriot

Reckless, hotheaded Rico Terriot seeks purpose and a sense of pride training the resentful guardians of New Orleans to defend a city besieged by a deadly outside force. Torn between his desire for his brother’s mate and the woman tied to the child of another, protecting their future happiness means denying his own on a dangerous path to redemption.

One night of stolen pleasure he didn’t remember and she couldn’t forget…

Amber . . . a single mother hiding a terrible past

Rico Terriot was the stuff of dreams . . . lately all of hers. But there’s no happily-ever-after for someone living in the shadows, protecting dangerous secrets that threaten her and her daughter. Dare she believe in a fairytale prince when he comes to her rescue, not knowing the price he’ll pay for making her troubles his own? From world’s so far apart, is love strong enough to hold them together . . . and keep them alive?

Excerpt from PRINCE OF FOOLS . . . 
"House of Terriot" Book 3
By Nancy Gideon
Amber buffed the bar top to a mirror-like shine, motions brisk, leaning into the job with a fierce concentration. A thankless job because no matter how glossy she made it, the underlying scars and countless rings would soon reappear to spoil the perfect look she tried to maintain. Frederick Terriot was like that surface. Though dazzled by the shine, she knew what lay beneath. No matter how hard she worked to change that fact, the damage had already been done, the flaws she tried to overlook forever marring what she longed to embrace.

Rico was a dark storybook prince to her Cinderella barmaid. Behind that careless grin and sad eyes lay what his clan made him: Rich, deadly, proud, thoughtless as well as vulnerable, and as far above her and her dreams as his soaring mountaintop to her bayou. Men like Frederick Terriot didn’t truly see females like her, not as equals, not as feeling, wanting, sharing partners. He used them for the moment to fill a need, not a permanent void, not because he was cruel or insensitive, but because of who he’d been raised to be.

And that would never, ever change, no matter what she hoped, no matter what those soft, seducing lips might promise.

Her heart carried more wounds than her body, her mind not quite as many as her soul, yet still, foolishly, she might have taken a chance on this once in a lifetime prince if she were the only one at risk. But she had more to protect than just herself.

Nancy Gideon is the award-winning bestseller of over 60 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix, and is currently testing the “Hybrid author” waters.

Under her own name, she’s a top 100 Amazon bestseller with her “By Moonlight” dark shape-shifter series and is also listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) for collaborating on Indie horror films In the Woods and Savage with screenwriting and ADR script credits, and a small role as “bar extra” she likes to boast about. Writing as Dana Ransom, she’s a “Career Achievement for Historical Adventure” award winner with books published in Romanian, Italian, Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, German, Icelandic and Chinese. Writing historicals as Rosalyn West, she’s a HOLT Medallion winner and she’s also penned regencies as Lauren Giddings. Many of her older titles (from the ‘80s and ‘90s) have been or are soon being reissued.

A prolific writer, Nancy attributes her creative output, which once peaked at seven novels in one year, to her love of history and a gift for storytelling, also crediting a background in journalism and OCD. She’s up every weekday at 4:30 a.m. to get in computer time before heading to her full-time job as a legal assistant in Central Michigan, and feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sheep Movie Review: Tokyo Ghoul (2017)

Tokyo Ghoul (2017)
Tôkyô gûru (original title)
29 July 2017 (Japan)

Director: Kentarô Hagiwara
Writers: Sui Ishida (manga), Ichirô Kusuno (screenplay)
Cast: Fumika Shimizu as Tōka Kirishima
Masataka Kubota as Ken Kaneki
Nobuyuki Suzuki as Kōtarō Amon
Yo Oizumi as Kureo Mado
Yuu Aoi as Rize Kamishiro
1h 59min
Action, Drama, Horror
Ken Kaneki is a bookworm college student who meets a girl named Rize at a cafe he frequents. They're the same age and have the same interests, so they quickly become close. Little does Kaneki know that Rize is a ghoul - a kind of monster that lives by hunting and devouring human flesh. When part of her special organ - "the red child" - is transplanted into Kaneki, he becomes a ghoul himself, trapped in a warped world where humans are not the top of the food chain. (from manga)

Holy sheep this movie is a lot of flocking fun! Let me start out by saying I haven't read the Tokyo Ghoul manga or watched the anime. I'd seen some images online but didn't know anything about the plot. And from what I've heard, prior knowledge of Tokyo Ghoul could affect how much you like the movie.

anime Kaneki
live action Kaneki
Apparently, the movie doesn't explore the deep moral issues Kaneki has to deal with since he is part human and part ghoul. And the manga is a lot more violent and gorier than the movie. But by focusing on the action element they have made a movie that will appeal to a wider me! This is a case where the intensity of the trailer is a reflection of the movie.
Ghouls are human flesh-eating "monsters" that look human. There are some bad ghouls that see people as livestock but there is a group of ghouls trying to coexist with humans and have found an alternative method for getting flesh. An organization called the CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul) hunts down and kills ghouls. Ghouls and their culture are a bit like vampires, but they need flesh instead of blood.
(left) Touka is one bad ass ghoul!
Ghouls have a special organ called a kagune that emerges from their back and can be used as a weapon (you can see them in the trailer). Ghouls can have different looking kagune. High-quality CGI effects were used to create the ghoul's kagune looks great.

There is some humor throughout, but Tokyo Ghoul is a drama/horror/action film. You are laughing one minute and then things take a drastic turn. There are some excellent choreographed fighting scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. The writers went with lots of blood instead of gore. I don't remember seeing a rating, but it probably falls in the low R rating...some scenes are pretty intense.

The movie was action packed and exciting. Sui Ishida (creator of Tokyo Ghoul manga) has created a dark and exciting supernatural world.

And just in case you didn't realize. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles.

Here are some YouTube links to scenes from the movie:

Exclusive Tokyo Ghoul The Movie Theatrical Clip - "Training with Touka"
Tokyo Ghoul: The Movie - Official Clip - Ghouls Among Us
Tokyo Ghoul: The Movie - Official Clip - Dinner Date
Tokyo Ghoul: The Movie - Official Clip - The Mask We All Wear
Tokyo Ghoul: The Movie - Official Clip - Flavor of Fear

4 1/2 "ghoulish" Sheep