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Book Review — “Clade” by James Bradley

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a relatively busy two weeks, chock full of appointments and some other changes. While I can’t go into the latter at this time, I promise to provide more info in the weeks to come, once some of them gel a little further. Aside from that, my wife and I celebrated our second anniversary and our youngest son’s first birthday. The weather is finally changing to something more conducive to creation for me, so be on the lookout for some more news on that front. Now, without further ado, this week’s review of “Clade”, by James Bradley.

The story starts in an unspecified time, but seems to be around present time since the effects of climate change are just being studied. It follows the life of a family during the course of their lifetime, sometimes as seen through the eyes of those outside of the family. The picture painted shows not just how the family adapts to major world-changing events,but humanity as a whole. Whether it is hurricanes and flooding in Great Britain, a worldwide pandemic, increased scrutiny and distrust of foreigners and immigrants, and… sorry, can’t give away spoilers.

This story, as I read it, reminded me a lot of “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke. It gave a long-term view of how humanity changes, given major events, and the possibilities of what to expect. It isn’t a science fiction story chock full of action, like most tend to be, but there are some instances where it does occur and it fits in very organically. The flow seemed a little slow at times, but none that feels even the least bit out-of-place. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and it is very much a change of pace compared to most that I’ve read. It is definitely a good read if you like powerful science fiction that makes you think.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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Book Review — ‘Handling the Undead”

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Well, it has been a busy week here at the Casa. I finally finished the audiobook that was delayed by so many life events and am just waiting for it to be approved. I will let you know as soon as it becomes available. I also have begun submitting short stories for open anthologies and magazines with hopes that they will accepted. I’ve also started recording auditions for other audiobooks with the hope that, between the writing and the recording, it can become a good source of income on top of what we already have coming in. Stay tuned to the blog for updates as they come.

Last week also saw the return of one of my stories in an anthology with the release of “Horrific Beginnings” by The Horror Society. My contribution to the book is “Blood Bank”, a story about what happens when a banker attempts to foreclose on a house that is home to a vampire brothel. He learns just how bad of an idea that turns out to be. You can purchase the book online by searching for it on Amazon.com, or by clicking here.

This week, we take a look at a zombie tale, but not one that follows the mainstream version of the reanimated — “Handling the Undead” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It is in Sweden and a strange energy pulse has swept through the country, and the dead are rising from their graves. Unlike the typical zombie stories, they are not out for flesh or brains as sustenance. In fact, they are only wandering around aimlessly, but this still does not sit well with the living at all. No one knows what to make of it other than it is localized to their country and only to those who have died within a couple of months of the day of awakening. As if that isn’t enough to cause chaos, people start being able to read each other’s minds when they are within the proximity of the reawakened. The question remains, how does one handle the undead?

I thought this was a good alternative take on the zombie genre we have been inundated with over the past few years. To have the reanimated be in such small numbers and not try to make a snack out of the living is very refreshing. That being said, the story itself is one that does feel like it dragged at times. To me, it might have done with a little more action somehow, perhaps more from the living than the dead. The way the story ended was a fitting way and one that left the story open enough for a sequel, one which I would gladly read. This story is definitely a recommend from me, 3.5 out of 5.

Until next, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Back on schedule, Big News, and “The Great Divide” Review

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Summer is starting to wind down, so it is time to get back on schedule for this blog. As important as this is to me, the extra time with my sons is much more so. Now, on to the current events and the book review.

The big news coming out of last week for me is that I have another story out in the wild. The short story collection, “Horrific Beginnings”, is available through Amazon and contains the first printed stories from myself and other members of The Horror Society. This particular book contains my short, “Blood Bank”, originally published in “Fresh Blood: Vampire Writers Support Group Anthology No.1” The story is about what happens when a bank decides to foreclose on a brothel run by vampires. Check out “Horrific Beginnings” and leave a review if you get a chance. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as we enjoyed writing them.

This week, I wanted to do a review of a comic book that I hadn’t heard of before, but is one that definitely caught my attention from the moment I began reading it. The series is called “The Great Divide: Separation Is Survival Is Separation”, and it is an apocalyptic story, but not one we’ve really seen done before. It looks at what happens to the world when you can literally kill someone with a touch of your finger. As is the case in many of the zombie stories and other end of the world plagues, what happens comes out of nowhere and changes the world in an instant. The slightest touch of one person to the next causes violent death by explosive bleeding, at least that’s the best way to term it. As if losing the ability to touch others isn’t enough of a trauma, you also pick up the mind of the person you’ve killed in this manner and they stay with you. It is enough to drive people mad, and in most cases of this story, it does just that. This, as you can imagine, spawns cults and depraved gangs thirsty for blood and violence (a la the Mad Max movies).

The book is a collection of the first six issues of the series. As I said earlier, it is one that captures your attention from the get go and doesn’t release you, not even when you come to the end of the book. It makes you want to read more and see what happens in this world, whether there is a cure for what’s happened or not. However, it is not one I recommend for younger children as there is a considerable amount of blood spurting from eyes and other orifices, as well as a decent amount of nudity involved. Aside from that little warning, this is definitely a book worth checking out. I, myself, cannot wait to pick up more volumes and the comic book series as well.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Still here!

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for not getting a post out last week. My sons were here for their two week summer visit with me, and I decided to give them the attention and skip a week on here. There will not be a review this week as I'm just finishing up my time with them, but I will be back next Thursday with a review of "Handling the Undead" by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Hopefully, I will also be able to share some good news on the story front.

Until next week…

D.J. Pitsiladis

RIP George A. Romero

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

How has your week been? Mine has been kind of a busy and tiring one. The heat and humidity of the summer has been exceptionally draining, but the plus is that we are that much closer to autumn, Halloween, and Christmas. The new house is slowly getting cleaned out, and things are about to get much busier on that front. We are looking at moving there sometime in the next six months or less, depending on how quickly we can get things done. Once there, it will be much easier to record cleaner recordings for podcast and audiobook. More updates to come.

Writing wise, I’ve not been able to get much done until recently. The last couple of days have seen a bit more written, and a second draft of a short story that is literally begging to get out in the wild. It’s been a challenge to juggle the writing with everything else going on, but, with any luck, it will help return some level of balance. As with the new house, more updates to come.

As most of you know, legendary horror director and creator of the modern-day zombie apocalypse story, George A. Romero, passed away this past weekend. Any horror or zombie fan knows of the man and his contributions to what we love and hold dear. I’m not going to focus on that, but say what he meant to me as a Horror Addict. One of the first horror movies I watched on cable was the re-make of “Night of the Living Dead”, which starred  Tony Todd and directed by Tom Savini. I thought the movie was a good one for the time and one I re-watched whenever I got the chance. It was my introduction to zombie apocalypse stories, but it wasn’t until I saw the original movie, directed by Mr. Romero, than I saw the nuances not included in the original. There is just something about seeing it in black and white and the use of shadows to add an extra element of horror. It was also how you might expect a resurrected corpse to act like, not the rabid monsters you see nowadays everywhere you look. He captured an innocence and terror without making the zombies themselves as the villains, just the disaster the people needed to work through.  I rewatched the remake after, and the original still holds as the best.

Another reason I’m a fan of his is that he is from my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and filmed the early movies in that area. I’ve always been a fan of filmmakers and movie makers using Pittsburgh as their backdrop. For me, it gives me a feeling of nostalgia and a stronger desire to go back and visit. Someday I may, but another wish will need to go unfulfilled… meeting the man himself. Perhaps in another lifetime I will, or if he returns to usher in the zombie apocalypse.

Was that a scratching at the window?

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Foreign Horror — “Train to Busan”

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Up here in North Dakota, we are swinging into the first triple digit temperatures of the summer this weekend, which is made more unbearable by the humidity that comes with it. Needless to say, there won’t be much work done outside at certain times of the day. I’m a pansy that way, I guess. However, starting next week I’ll be starting a regular schedule of fixing our other home, and, with much luck, we should be moving there in the next couple of months or so. It is in a much smaller town and is a bigger house with a bigger yard. Wish us luck as we continue this endeavor.

For this week, I thought I’d showcase a foreign horror film that showed zombies in a slightly different light than how they are portrayed in the “Walking Dead” and some other American zombie films. As I’m sure fellow horror addicts know, some of the best horror movies to watch have come to us from foreign markets. A lot of people are possibly turned off by having to read subtitles to follow the movies, but it is worth the effort to catch a really good scare. “Train to Busan” is one such movie.

The movie opens with a military checkpoint and a deer who climbs back to its feet after being run over by a farmer’s truck. In that moment, you know whatever causes the dead to reanimate isn’t limited to humans. It then switches to the main characters, a divorced father and his daughter, on the eve of the little girl’s birthday. He is a workaholic who doesn’t spend as much time with her as he she deserves. Her one birthday wish is to see her Mother, who lives in Busan. The father is reluctant to do so, but finally relents when his little girl opens his gift and it is a duplicate for one he gave to her a couple of months prior. They board an overnight train to Busan amid reports of riots going on in the cities. Before the train leaves, two stowaways board it, one of whom is bitten and in agony. It is that one person who starts a chain reaction of zombie attacks on the train.

I enjoyed the movie a lot, and not just for the horror elements. As a father with a less than good relationship with my ex-wife, I was able to relate to the father in many ways. You can tell as the movie progresses how much he loves his daughter and can see the guilt he feels for allowing work to take such so much time away from her. This is while people on their train change into rabid monsters and attacking anything they see moving. The infection is transferred via bites, and the change is rapid as the victims convulse on the floor and then a rage takes over. The reanimated corpses go into a frenzy when they see the living, almost like piranha. These zombies are also sprinters, so it takes a little less of the human mistake from the deaths, but not too much of it. Overall, I recommend this movie for zombie lovers and those who like fast paced movies.

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Comic Book Review — All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Well, summer has fully arrived here in North Dakota. With temperatures approaching 100 degrees and very little rain so far, things have been pretty unbearable, especially for an autumn baby like me. The one thing that helps me get through it (besides air conditioning) is the fact that we are now closer to Halloween and Christmas, my two favorite holidays. Also, we only have to deal with the high temperatures for the next month and a half to two months before things will get down to the 60s and 70s. I am definitely looking forward to that. For now, I also take solace in the fact that I don’t have to deal with freezing weather and snow storms as I work on the repairs to our new home. We are still hoping to move in there in about six months or so, although some days it feels more “or so”.

This week, I thought I’d introduce a new thing to the blog. I enjoy reading anything and everything I can, which include comic books. I used to collect the X-Men and Spider-Man comics about twenty years ago, however it became very expensive. Sadly, all of the comics I had collected needed to be gotten rid of due to a mold allergy my wife had with my home at the time of the marriage. Considering how the marriage ended, getting rid of all of those comic books is something I still regret doing. Unfortunately, I cannot go back in time, so I try to not think about it too much. I was a loose fan of the Batman comics, but, like many people, the Nolan Batman films triggered a love for the characters in that world that almost eclipses what I felt for the X-titles… almost. That’s what leads me to the inaugural comic book review of “All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy”.

To start things off, I must confess that this review is based on an Advance Reader’s Copy of the book, so things I see in the comic may differ from the final copy. I am unable to discuss any text in the issue, mostly because my copy didn’t include any. Whether this is the final design of the book or not, I can’t say for sure. What I can tell you is that the artwork in the book is excellent, and is able to carry the story pretty well. The book appears to be about Batman taking Two Face back to Gotham, and most of his Rogue’s Gallery attempting to stop and/or kill them beforehand. It is pretty easy to follow the story, however, I do miss the dialog and narration. I do hope that the words are included in the final copy of the book.

I need to scat and take care of our soon to be toddler. Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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