All Hallow’s Read (Day 19) A scary book for…

…someone who likes a series.

Jake Helman is one badass character, packing more attitude and swagger than you could possibly imagine. The Jake Helman Files, a supernatural/noir series by Gregory Lamberson, is 100% Dreadfully Approved, and worth every second. Start with Personal Demons, move on to Desperate Souls, and then throw down with Cosmic Forces. You won’t be disappointed. Tortured Spirits, the 4th book in the series will be available in October 2012.

All Hallow’s Read is a book-giving tradition thought up by author Neil Gaiman. We’ll be making book suggestions all month long in case you need ideas!

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Bloody Bytes: Digital Deals & Steals

It’s been a long three weeks since the last Dreadful Tales installment of Bloody Bytes, the column that’s dedicated to bringing the horror fan cheap digital deals. But now we’re back… with a vengeance!

Check out the digital deals and steals for horror fiction and more beyond the break.

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Zombies Don’t Cry by Rusty Fischer

Rusty Fischer and Medallion Press have offered up a new take on zombies with this wonderful piece of fiction. What, at first glance, looks like your “run of the mill” YA zombie novel, turns everything you thought about the sub-genre on it’s head, and whollops you with a very important, and impressive example of how YA should be written.

Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.

Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.

With no Heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains”. Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay Haigh faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most – just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is.

Busting out of the gate with an explosive (and hilarious) intro, Fischer sets the stage for a fun romp through the life of a young, accidently zombified, teenage girl; and leads you to believe that this is going to be something reminiscent of the scores of other YA horror novels out there. But you, the intelligent reader, can see something else in there. Behind the facade of a teenage-angst-ridden zombie story, Fischer has presented something fresher and more vivid than the decaying corpses littering the YA section of your favorite book store (or web-store *sigh*).

Fischer brings a massive amount of entertainment to this piece, not only poking fun at most teenage stereotypes, but also poking fun at the genre itself – in some places. Written from the perspective of the main female character, the author tends to lay heavy on the funny to dispell most of the serious situations, but dips into some seriously hardcore emotional territory with others. The brilliance of this situation is that he is able to make you laugh, think, and possibly even cry…all within the same sentence. To say that Fischer understands the teenage mindframe would be an understatement. He lives it in this novel, and that is what makes this book so different from the rest of the pack.

Now, in what is possibly my favorite move with this novel, Fischer whips out a whole new bag of tricks in regards to the zombies themselves. The constantly shuffling, groaning, and…well…slow moving zombies are eschewed for a more intelligent and brutal breed of walking dead. Not only are they completely sentient beings, but they’re also capable of planning and other sorts of menacing behavior. Even the manner of becoming zombified is completely different from most traditional ways. Fischer has introduced the potential for lightening to be a crucial factor in the zombification process, but hasn’t completely done away with the “zombie-by-bite” method. In fact, two different types of zombies can be created using the two different styles of…well…zombie creation, which is a much needed breath of fresh air in the sub-genre.

The whole book is written beautifully, combining so many different emotions and enough pop culture references to make any nerd’s head explode. Fischer has a tight grip on all things modern, and it really shows throughout the entire story. This novel will appeal to all ages. No exception. Hopefully Fischer has it in mind to write a follow up, as this is one story that I can really see becoming bigger and more detailed.

A great introduction to a truly unique world, Zombies Don’t Cry sets the bar high for YA horror novels.

C.

Cosmic Forces by Greg Lamberson

I love Jake Helman. I love him, I love Greg Lamberson for bringing him to me, I love Medallion for bringing it to print, and I love… well, everything about this series. And I’m so happy to report to you that this is the best book in the Jake Helman Files to date. Cosmic Forces is full of action, suspense, gore, hilarious one-liners, and a hero that puts all others to shame.

And a really friggin’ big monster.

Oh yeah, this one is huge.

The whole damned book is huge. From concept to characters, action and plot, this whole thing feels like holding a million pounds of creativity packed into a small, book shaped package.

When the wife of New York City mayor Myron Madigan hires private investigator Jake Helman to spy on her husband, the trail leads him to Karlin Reichard. The wealthy industrialist and kingmaker leads to a cabal that has secretly manipulated world affairs for generation. In order to bring these powerful men down, Jake must join them. But at what cost to his own soul?

Battling human assassins and supernatural creatures, Jake pursues a quest to uncover the mystery behind the Order of Avademe and a monster willing to destroy heaven and hell to rule the earth.

In what is definitely the biggest, most ambitious plot in the Jake Helman series, Lamberson dishes out heaping loads of pain, torture, and terrifying situations to (in my opinion) the best damned hero of modern fiction. Not only that, but Lamberson expands upon the world that Helman inhabits, revisiting some of his earlier cases, and setting up more questions about some of the secondary characters that we just knew had something more to them. The year-long wait for this follow-up to Desperate Souls and Personal Demons was well worth every single literary withdrawal symptom I experienced. Unfortunately for me (and you folks, too), we’ll be waiting until 2012 for the aptly named follow-up – Tortured Spirits.

Getting back on track – this time around we find Jake fighting all manner of creepy-crawly nasties in search of information pertaining to his current case. Lamberson has always excelled at creating incredible characters, as Jake Helman’s undeniably strong and larger than life existence will tell, and the folks in Cosmic Forces are no different. From the get-go, Lamberson throws nothing but true, realistic dialogue, and emotive characters into the mix, really fleshing out the story for all it’s worth. From Madigan’s wife to his dwarf-like assistant, Lamberson surrounds Jake and the entire plot with a spectacular cast that showcases his practiced ability to give the reader what they want, and the author’s own incredible understanding of character creation.

Again, Lamberson has given the reader not just a story, but also the literary equivalent of the cinematic experience. It’s not hard to imagine this series as a film franchise, but given the extremely detailed plots, it would hard to believe that Hollywood or any other film maker would be able to do it justice. Not to mention the sheer amount of time it would take to create some of the monsters that Lamberson has dreamed up this time.

Now, earlier I said that this is the most ambitious of all of the Jake Helman books. I said that with good reason. Lamberson has upped the ante in this one considerably. Not only is Jake going head to head with a giant monster, the likes of which I won’t explain for the sake of the spectacularly grand reveal in the novel, but he’s also going up against several very powerful men and the powers of good and evil themselves. The team-ups in this novel are incredible as well, making Cosmic Forces switch from a dark, noir-ish tale to a full on comic book style replete with some of the best action we’ve seen so far. The ending just begs for a huge and triumphant orchestral score to punctuate every Biff!, Bam!, and Boom! that Jake and his fellow renegades deliver to their enemies. I was compelled to read this scene twice, just because it was so damned fun.

There are some incredibly detailed and creative biblical references in this book, as well. All of the mythos draws from some sort of religious background, with under (and over) tones of occult themes thrown in for good measure. Lamberson travels a great distance to create his own mythology in this story, crafting an almost entirely believable back story that could very well serve as a cult belief in and of itself. Like his previous efforts, and his novel The Frenzy Way, Cosmic Forces is incredibly well researched, and will satisfy almost every answer that could pop into your head regarding the information contained herein. The only pieces left untouched hint at a story that would be very welcomed as a follow-up. If I’m right, Tortured Spirits could very well be even better than its predecessor.

This book really has everything I, as a reader, could ever want i a horror/crime crossover story. Apart from Mike Oliveri’s The Pack: Winter Kill, I have yet to find a series that grabs my attention as much as this one does. Lamberson knows exactly what he’s doing, and creates a different, more emotionally charged, and thematically huge story with every subsequent release.

You won’t be disappointed with these books, folks. This series is 100% Dreadfully Approved.

Check out Medallion Books here, and Greg Lamberson’s website here. For a limited time, you can grab a free e-copy of Personal Demons – the 1st book in the Jake Helman Series – at Amazon, and other online retailers.

C.

News: Greg Lamberson and Medallion Press give you Personal Demons

Greg Lamberson, the creator of the Jake Helman Files series, and Publisher Medallion Press are inviting you to download the first book – Personal Demons – FOR FREE!

See the Media release after the cut!

This is one of my favorite books/series, and I am beyond excited to bring this news your way.

The Helman books combine one of the most perfect mixtures of horror, supernatural, and crime fiction set to print. You’ll be missing a lot of you don’t check  this out. Check out our reviews of Personal Demons here, and the follow up book Desperate Souls here.

Greg has several other books in print including Johnny Gruesome (review), and The Frenzy Way (review).

Lamberson is set to release
book 3 in The Helman Series, Cosmic Forces, this October, and the follow up to The Frenzy WayThe Frenzy War – in June 2012.

C.

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