Monday, 21 August 2017

DailyFlash: Heaven

These lazy days we enjoy so much, lying here in bed with the curtains and window open, summer sun like yellow pastel on paper penetrating the mote-filled air. The rays hit our feet poking out from the bottom of the blanket, temporarily warming us. 
     If I could rise or help you rise, we'd go to the window and watch the ducks sidling by in the brook, or the otters poking their noses above the surface before submerging. Nothing but stillness in the distance.
     What a haven we have for ourselves, our own little heaven here on the farm. The dogs running wild, the cats wilder, the hens huddled in their own little death embraces in the corner of the coop.
     These lazy nights we enjoy so much, hot love bleeding out, the moonlight making ghosts of our skin.


Click here for more of my Daily Flash Fiction


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7: The worst & best season so far

With season 7 of Game of Thrones nearly over already, and with 9.x ratings dropping on iMDb for many of the episodes so far, it's hard to call this season the worst one so far. But it is. The only reason these episodes are getting any love is because so much that the fans have been waiting for is finally happening.


Daenerys is in Westeros; her dragons are burning shit down; Jon has met her, the Starks are reunited, and Arya is a badass. Sansa and Cersei are fringe players at the moment. Bran is just weird.

It's obvious that the show has gone beyond the books as the plot points now seem forced, or not shown at all. With 7 episodes, there has been no time for build up or the political sleight of hand that we are so used to. It's nothing more than scenes we have been waiting for, linked together however they could be, a quickly as possible. I fear the last 2 seasons of Game of Thrones will go down as one of the biggest what-could-have-beens in TV history. Not giving the characters and events the proper build up and time possible, given the pace of the previous seasons, is a real disservice to its ending.

*Spolier*

I mean, taking a small band of men into the thick of it north of the wall so they can get a Wight to prove to Cersei that they need to focus their energy on a different enemy (could they have just found someone on the edge of death and left them there to reanimate, and then brought them back?) And then getting trapped by White Walkers who conveniently held back (a bit of water?!) until the dragon could be called for (how quickly do ravens fly?!) Why the urgency? They've been in no rush. Deal with the Iron throne first. And just bend the knee, Jon, it ain't no biggee.

I mean, not lending your dragons out to protect your allies. Only too late hitting your enemies as they travel between battlements.

I mean, convoluting a sister-sister spat because they have nothing else to do.

I mean, getting pregnant because they've got nothing else to do.

I mean, not burning all of Euron's ships which are presumably exposed at sea.

I mean, without the core material, the writing is just as loose as the Hound's language. And you know that in the books Bran will be playing a much bigger role in the actions that happen, but he is underused here (not that I miss him).

With just one more episode to go, and another 6 next season, unless those 6 are 2 hours long, it's just not enough time to make the most of everything they have built up. But it should still be fun.


DailyFlash: Wake Up

One of us is not well but we don't know why. The Doctor is testing this and that, but she is flat on her back with a pain in her head and light that burns her eyes.
     "Just as a precaution," he says, "I'll start you on a course of antibiotics. We need to rule out the worst, a bleed on the brain or meningitis."
     Everything could be fine, says the beat that skips and the intake of air.
     The Doctor continues to speak, but for now, the only thing he seems to be saying is "Welcome to the real world."



Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Dark Tower Movie Review and Thoughts






Like Roland Deschain himself, a calm falls quietly over me as I step forth from the small-screen cinema complex in my local town (alas, not in Mid-World but Kidderminster, Keystone Earth). It’s starting to rain. The clouds look the colour of piss-poor tea. All the things that bind this world have not fallen apart.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Hereafter & Other Short Stories

I haven't done much shouting about this new title from me yet - the release date is the 25 August and it is currently on preorder on Amazon.

Grab it here!



There's also an ongoing Goodreads Giveaway live right now if you wanted to request a free paperback copy!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hereafter and Other Short Stories by Adam J.  Smith

Hereafter and Other Short Stories

by Adam J. Smith

Giveaway ends August 26, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway



If you'd like a review copy, hit me up at aj.smith@writeme.com.

Updated reading list - A Life Removed is *removed* (finished) - Under the Amoral bridge next!

A Life Removed was one of those crime thrillers that got better as the characters developed - starting a little cliched but then turning about on their heels, until you weren't sure who you could trust. A the bad guy was a *good* bad guy, which is always important. You can check out the review here: https://culturedvultures.com/life-removed-jason-parent-book-review/.

The blog is now more widely shared so getting more requests than I can keep up with. I need a holiday to catch up on some reading! I've even started being a bit picky, focusing more on the authors who really need reviews (and whose books sound promising!) But I guess that's good for both readers and writers! Hopefully readers will stumble onto something they may not have considered, and writers will get that one extra sale!

Under the Amoral Bridge is currently lighting up my Kobo. So far, so excellent. Set in the future, where it appears every street corner could be 'the underground' - it's a well-written cyberpunk novel with teeth.

Currently reading


Artemis Bridge is the know-who, go-to guy, the amoral fixer in 2028 Los Angeles with the connection for any illicit desire no matter how depraved. You need it, he can get it without questions or judgment. He prides himself on staying detached from the depravity, untouched by the filth, untouchable by the law. When a young hacker is assassinated before his eyes, he is burdened with a scandalous video of the mayor on the eve of the city's most important election of the century. With digital assassins and murderous thugs dogging his every step, he has only days before the corrupt mayor is re-elected, handing the Chronosoft Corporation complete control of the city. Unable to sell the video, he is forced further into a complex conspiracy.





Reading list



Indigo by DL Young

For over twenty years, Indigo Cruz has worked the markets of the Texas wastelands, hustling wares, cutting deals, and earning a hard-won reputation as a tough, shrewd trader. In a dangerous, brutal world, she's managed to carve out a comfortable, safe existence...

...until the day the Fundamentalist Church of Divine Wrath shows up on her turf, throwing her world into chaos.
Forced by the violent cult's leader to serve as a guide for a mysterious mission, Indigo finds herself trapped between factions warring for control of the Republic. But when she crosses paths with the runaway mind-reader Soledad Paz, will their chance meeting be the key to Indigo's survival or the final nail in her coffin?




The Method by Duncan Ralston


How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Frank and Linda's marriage is falling apart. When old friends tell them about an "unconventional therapy retreat" called The Method, they jump at the chance to attend.

Dr. Kaspar's Lone Loon Lodge is a secluded resort deep in the Montana wilds. The staff is friendly. The other couple joining them is intense. But when a death occurs events quickly spiral out of control, leaving Linda and Frank unable to trust anyone but each other.

Nothing is what it seems, and only one thing is certain: Love Is Pain.




Caleb, a 17-year-old boy, survived the zombie uprising, but he didn’t come out of the ordeal unscathed. He’s been scarred—both mentally and physically. The rest of humanity is trying to rebuild, to make the world normal again. Caleb is trying to return to a normal life also, but after all he’s seen, after the loss of his family and friends, the transition is difficult. The darkness that led him down a path of self-doubt and self-harm keeps trying to creep back into his mind.
Things only become worse when he discovers he’s immune to whatever makes a zombie a zombie. Fighting zombies was predictable. He knew what to expect. Fighting humans is volatile. They are malicious and treacherous. They won’t stop to get what they want, and Caleb has to figure out exactly what that is.


Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. But she has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first. Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.





The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M Appel


On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath--a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.







Since childhood, Nila Carter is made to spend every weekend at the family cabin. In her teenage years she believes it to be a prison, as an adult it becomes her sanctuary and means to survive. When a mysterious outbreak occurs in India, Nila’s brother, Bobby, a virologist with the CDC, places the family on a precautionary alert to be ready to bug out. Unlike anything he’s ever seen, the rabies like virus is not just deadly, it causes extreme violent behavior in those infected. Following her brother’s advice, Nila begins to stockpile. After months of preparing, just as it seems the virus is over, everything implodes and Bobby informs his family to leave the city. With her family, Nila heads to the mountains and to her father’s isolated land.
The book explores the complex psychological issues relating to the dark side of motherhood. Its subject is rarely written or discussed even in the protected privacy of a psychiatrist’s care. People prefer to keep it deep inside and don`t dare to speak it aloud.

But there are those who are not able to say a single word even if they wanted to. Those who were deprived not only of childhood, but sometimes their life itself. They are destined to the silent suffering, trying to survive in the chilling embrace of the "dead" mother.




Deadly Reign by Lynn Steigleder
In this, the third book in the Rising Tide Series, Ben, Eve and Pete continue to push through this new Earth as the world sinks deeper into corruption. They gain new allies, including an intellectual animal equipped with the gift of speech. They are forced to battle six aberrations (beasts and riders) deemed nearly indestructible. The environment has manifested into a frigid terrain with the sun lost in the ice filled cloud cover. Swords forged specially for the riders by the riders offer another layer of defense to an already superior force. The humans have deduced that water may possibly be a weapon, but a weapon that even now is freezing at an accelerated rate.


There are three realms, terrestrial, celestial - and infernal; all engaged in a perpetual struggle between good and evil. For over five hundred years, the bastion of England's protection has been a small and little known agency, based in the Canonbury tower, Islington.

Zach, a justice angel and one of the agency’s most skilled operatives, has just returned from a harrowing mission working with the dead and dying in strife-torn Syria. The last thing he needs is to be sent back into the field.

But two humans on a celestial witness protection programme have just been abducted and Zach, saddled against his better judgement with rookie agent and time shifter Sara, is sent into the Inferno to rescue them.

Book review: A Life Removed By Jason Parent Book

There’s something to be said about the growing quality of my indie review list: many of them could easily grace the shelves of your local bookstore with the backing of a publisher, and even those that may fall short just need some tinkering. Stepping to the plate is A Life Removed by Jason Parent, a crime thriller perhaps in the vein of James Patterson or Thomas Harris. It may not have the depth of say a Silence of the Lambs, but it does well to weave an intriguing plot that leaves you wanting more of the bad guy. And everyone loves to hate a bad guy.

8/10
Full review: https://culturedvultures.com/life-removed-jason-parent-book-review/

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Long time no see! A Life Removed finished.

Feels like months since the last post, but it's only a couple weeks. Some upheavals and other things getting in the way! I did find time to finish A Life Removed by Jason Parent however - it was pleasantly surprising, one of those books that got better and darker the more I read. A crime novel, it started mildly formulaic with your good cop/bad cop detectives, beat cop, and ritualistic murders, and I was even left wondering at one point if I should be rooting for anyone. In the end, I quite enjoyed the storyline that unravelled, and how morality lines were blurred within some characters. Not sure where I'd rank it yet in my top 10 indie reads, maybe after I've done the Cultured Vultures review I'll be able to settle.



I have a crazy amount to catch up on! Seems the blog is being linked from a variety of places now, meaning I'm getting more traffic and more review requests. All good, but please bear with me!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Reading List Update - Celebrity Gulag finished & reviewed - A Life Removed by Jason Parent next

You can check out my indie review for Celebrity Gulag here - it was a surprisingly good read from a fellow Brit. It has some British eccentricities, which seems to be putting some Americans off if the reviews are anything to go by, but why I don't know. If you're a reader, by default you have an open mind in my book, willing to experience new and different things - that's half the point! Anyway, it's definitely worth a read.

I'm a few chapters into A Life Removed by Jason Parent now, something completely different; a detective novel with some gruesome murders to solve. Very tightly written so far with some compelling characters!

Added to the list are two interesting titles: My Dead World by Jacqueline Druga, a novel about a dangerous virus in India; and The Dead Silence by Jane B, about the dark side of motherhood.

Currently reading


Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.

Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.
If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.




Reading list



Under the Amoral Bridge by Gary Ballard

Artemis Bridge is the know-who, go-to guy, the amoral fixer in 2028 Los Angeles with the connection for any illicit desire no matter how depraved. You need it, he can get it without questions or judgment. He prides himself on staying detached from the depravity, untouched by the filth, untouchable by the law. When a young hacker is assassinated before his eyes, he is burdened with a scandalous video of the mayor on the eve of the city's most important election of the century. With digital assassins and murderous thugs dogging his every step, he has only days before the corrupt mayor is re-elected, handing the Chronosoft Corporation complete control of the city. Unable to sell the video, he is forced further into a complex conspiracy.



Indigo by DL Young

For over twenty years, Indigo Cruz has worked the markets of the Texas wastelands, hustling wares, cutting deals, and earning a hard-won reputation as a tough, shrewd trader. In a dangerous, brutal world, she's managed to carve out a comfortable, safe existence...

...until the day the Fundamentalist Church of Divine Wrath shows up on her turf, throwing her world into chaos.
Forced by the violent cult's leader to serve as a guide for a mysterious mission, Indigo finds herself trapped between factions warring for control of the Republic. But when she crosses paths with the runaway mind-reader Soledad Paz, will their chance meeting be the key to Indigo's survival or the final nail in her coffin?




The Method by Duncan Ralston


How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Frank and Linda's marriage is falling apart. When old friends tell them about an "unconventional therapy retreat" called The Method, they jump at the chance to attend.

Dr. Kaspar's Lone Loon Lodge is a secluded resort deep in the Montana wilds. The staff is friendly. The other couple joining them is intense. But when a death occurs events quickly spiral out of control, leaving Linda and Frank unable to trust anyone but each other.

Nothing is what it seems, and only one thing is certain: Love Is Pain.




Caleb, a 17-year-old boy, survived the zombie uprising, but he didn’t come out of the ordeal unscathed. He’s been scarred—both mentally and physically. The rest of humanity is trying to rebuild, to make the world normal again. Caleb is trying to return to a normal life also, but after all he’s seen, after the loss of his family and friends, the transition is difficult. The darkness that led him down a path of self-doubt and self-harm keeps trying to creep back into his mind.
Things only become worse when he discovers he’s immune to whatever makes a zombie a zombie. Fighting zombies was predictable. He knew what to expect. Fighting humans is volatile. They are malicious and treacherous. They won’t stop to get what they want, and Caleb has to figure out exactly what that is.


Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. But she has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first. Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.





The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M Appel


On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath--a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.







Since childhood, Nila Carter is made to spend every weekend at the family cabin. In her teenage years she believes it to be a prison, as an adult it becomes her sanctuary and means to survive. When a mysterious outbreak occurs in India, Nila’s brother, Bobby, a virologist with the CDC, places the family on a precautionary alert to be ready to bug out. Unlike anything he’s ever seen, the rabies like virus is not just deadly, it causes extreme violent behavior in those infected. Following her brother’s advice, Nila begins to stockpile. After months of preparing, just as it seems the virus is over, everything implodes and Bobby informs his family to leave the city. With her family, Nila heads to the mountains and to her father’s isolated land.
The book explores the complex psychological issues relating to the dark side of motherhood. Its subject is rarely written or discussed even in the protected privacy of a psychiatrist’s care. People prefer to keep it deep inside and don`t dare to speak it aloud.

But there are those who are not able to say a single word even if they wanted to. Those who were deprived not only of childhood, but sometimes their life itself. They are destined to the silent suffering, trying to survive in the chilling embrace of the "dead" mother.

Film Review: Ozzie Horror Killing Ground - Brutal


If you go down to the woods today, make sure it’s not in Australia. Or New Hampshire, or that one in The Forest for that matter. Heck, I could go on. There’s no cabin in this woods, just a couple trying to have a nice romantic time, and we can’t be having none of that.

Written and directed by Damien Power, Killing Ground stars Harriet Dyer and Ian Meadows as two lovebirds looking to spend some quality time away from the bustle of urban life.

See more: https://culturedvultures.com/killing-ground-review-brutal-satisfying/

...


Killing Ground is a brutal and realistic thriller with characters that lead the story. Intelligent, and beautifully shot, with an uneasy score, it is satisfying viewing.

8/10



Book Review: Celebrity Gulag by MA Rice - Horror Thriller

It is the future and Dr Phillip Bruno finds himself on the brink of nuclear fusion success, only for things to take a sinister turn. We are introduced to the dystopian society of Celebrity Gulag by M. A. Rice, as Phillip regales his tale to us; at first through interchanging chapters that switch between the gruesome present of his apparent escape from incarceration and subsequent chase, and the events that lead up to them.

See more: https://culturedvultures.com/celebrity-gulag-m-rice-review/

...

An expressively written tale of a man of science fighting to stay alive in a dystopian, alt-future society, where fame and fortune take precedence over altruism. A society for the one.

9/10

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Get ready for a Goodreads Giveaway!

In 3 days time I'll be opening a Goodreads Giveaway for 5 paperback copies of Hereafter & Other Short Stories - be sure to enter!

Within those pages will be something for everyone: the yearning of lost love and youth within the boys left to fend for themselves in the wake of the Lisbon suicides; the transformative effects of the Frontier; coming clean with your need to strip to your Birthday suit; the horror of discovering that Big Brother has lost control; how easy it is to tie yourself up in the intricacies of time; and a story to show what can happen when possessions start owning you.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hereafter and Other Short Stories by Adam J.  Smith

Hereafter and Other Short Stories

by Adam J. Smith

Giveaway ends August 26, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Fiction into Art: Wings

Coming soon to issue 5 of GRAPHITE Magazine is Eliza Ivanova's narrative tutorial for this evocative artwork created from my dailyflash fiction piece, Wings.



Artist: Eliza Ivanova
Site: www.elizaivanova.com

Text:
“Instinctively touching her back, she felt coarse feathers bristling
through her skin, like acupuncture needles she was once
compelled to touch. That had been weird, but nothing compared
to this. She pulled on one nascent shaft and felt her skin peel
towards it. It was stuck, but she got the feeling that if she pulled
a little harder, it would pop, and come out in her fingers.
In the mirror, she shrugged her shoulder blades and feathers, black
– highlighting the opalescence of her pink skin – blossomed like a
blast of sudden spring. They grew, forming wings, knocking toiletries
from shelves and slamming like a fist against the window pane.
The window. The sudden urge to open it was overwhelming.”

Friday, 14 July 2017

DailyFlash: Loose

It's bright in the rat room; strip lights illuminate from above and heatlamps glow from within each of the glass cages. The cages form a grid against the wall, a row of seven at the bottom and eight running up: fifty-six in total. Of course, up and down is relative in the space station. On the opposite wall the vast blue ocean shimmers majestically through the port window. And rats seem almost to swim on the surface; white rats with long tails that have escaped their cages, all the doors open. Rats floating, bouncing off walls or gnawing at cables that dangle from flashing instruments. The scientist in white chases, the coattail of her jacket trailing like a cape, one arm flailing and the other hugging fluffy white bundles to her chest. 

Fiction into Art: Eltish Vale

The latest piece of awesome artwork to be created from my text is The Eltish Vale. Loving the colours below.


Artist: Eduardo Vieira
Web: www.eduardovieirartportfolio.tumblr.com

A full tutorial for this image can be found in issue 4 of GRAPHITE magazine.

Text: 
“After a day spent trekking through dark forests and fighting off
giant spiders, it was down-time for the adventurers. They set camp
next to the hot springs of Eltish Vale and stretched their limbs,
placing helmets on stakes and shrugging armor from shoulders.
The elf watched on disapprovingly as the dwarves bounded into
the lake, shedding layers, while the halflings unburdened the cart
of its ale cask. The wizard used his staff to create a campfire, and
in its glow a hog roast slowly turned. And in the darkness of the
trees a creature lurked, firelight flashing dark intent in its eyes.”