Underwood and Flinch: Bonded In Blood

18209165The last time we heard from Underwood and Flinch in Resurrection, Flinch discovered he has no choice in being Underwood’s guardian. He also can’t stop Underwood from killing people.  In Underwood and Flinch: Bonded In Blood  by Mike Bennett, the story picks up right after the first one ended.

With David and Lord Underwood both knowing where each other stand, Underwood decides to find out what the local nightlife of Almacena is like. They go to a bar, owned by friends of Lydia, and Underwood sets his sights on the wife of the bar’s co-owner, Michelle.  Underwood wants a new mate, but things are not that easy as David and Lydia do not approve of his choice.

To make matters worse, the Russian mafia is hunting down the owners of the bar and Michelle’s husband does not want to give up his wife. Also, Lydia has plans of her own to get Underwood to make her and the other members of the Black Circle into vampires, even if she has to trick her master to do it. There is also the question of whether David can handle the  job of being Underwood’s guardian.

That’s not all you get in Bonded In Blood. This book also talks about how Underwood  became affiliated with Flinch. His origin story starts in the early 18th century and explains how Underwood was forced to become a pirate and how his escape attempt lead him to become a vampire. The story shifts seamlessly from the present to the past and then back to the present.

Mike Bennett has a great story here and the book was hard to put down. I think what I liked best about the book was how it worked as drama, horror, action and comedy. I loved when Underwood starts talking about butts and also when Underwood starts dancing to Motorhead with Michelle.

There were also some great horror scenes such as when four pirates are being stalked by something in the dead of the night and when Underwood looses his cool in a strip club. Mike Bennett adds a lot of different ingredients to his story and it works well even if you’re not a horror fan. There were also some great fight scenes throughout the book and the story itself is very deep.

This story also looks at the theme of redemption, loyalty, love, and friendship. You get to see Underwood and Flinch’s relationship change throughout the book and even when they don’t see eye to eye, they still work great together. Even some of the minor characters in Bonded In Blood get some great scenes. One part where the Russian Mafia shows up at Michelle’s bar is memorable and there is a scene where even though both Michelle and her husband are under Underwood’s influence, they still manage to show their love for each other.

The only thing that bothered me a little was the ending. It made sense and kept true to the themes of the book, but there was one loose end that needed to be tied up. There are more books scheduled in the Underwood and Flinch series and I hope Mike Bennett does as good with the next book as he did on the first two. Bonded In Blood is a good example of how great vampire fiction can be. Even if you don’t like vampires, you will find something to like here.

13 Questions with Marc Vale

Welcome back Horror Addicts for season 7 and the 3rd year of 13 Questions!

What we have in store for you this season (in the words of The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is sure to thrill you, chill you, and fulfill you! And to get this amazing season started, I had the pleasure of interviewing author Marc Vale for HA Episode 72.

This newly converted Addict has written an exclusive story that “you won’t hear anywhere else!” This dark comedy is titled, A Lid for Every Pot: The Wedding. “It’s about a loving couple that had met on a blind date (a previous story titled, A Lid for Every Pot). And now, it’s their wedding day. Everyone’s invited and the guests all share the bride’s style of… ah… appetite.”

You may recognize Marc’s name from his short stories and novellas Silhouette, The Phoenix and the Turtle, Live at Pappy’s Grill House, Irma, and Metric Modulation. For those of you not familiar with Vale or his work… all of those stories “take place in a fictional town [Marc] named, Blue Lake. Some stories have monsters, poltergeists, or situations where time travel is involved. They are all connected either by the town or by characters.

There is also an audio version of the short stories/novellas titled, All Road’s Lead to Blue Lake. Marc shared with me that All Road’s Lead to Blue Lake actually “has an added bonus story, Teacher of the Year, which features one of my characters who played a very minor part in Silhouette. Fans can listen to All Roads Lead to Blue Lake at: Podiobooks.com.”

For all you paperback lovers out there, sadly none of Vale’s works are available in print. BUT they are in fact available as very cheap e-books and free audio.

Marc’s current project which “came about through the inspiration of all the women in his life,” is Strigoaie: The Romanian Witch. Marc kindly explained to me that Strigoaie: The Romanian Witch “is the story of Marie Fatan in which she travels with her grandmother, Granna Lee, to Romania. This is her dad’s side of the family, which is very secretive. Later, Marie discovers why this side of the family is that way.”

This Gran Turismo and Batman junkie lives to write. In the interview Vale told me a little bit about his love of writing. “The dream is to be only a writer, but reality hits me every morning, say around 6:15am and then I get up and ready myself for my day job. Then, I steal as much time as I can find to plot and plan for my next project.”

As a Horror Addict Marc was excited to share his thoughts on horror. “[I enjoy] the suspense, getting scared, the open possibilities of creating any type of situation and having the freedom to muck it up the way you want to. I’m always rooting for the monsters!”

What was his favorite horror story growing up, you ask? IT by the one and only Stephen King. To quote Vale, “the movie doesn’t do it the frightening justice it deserves. Read the book, at night. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you, clowns are your friends, aren’t they?”

For those of you aching for more of Marc’s work, fear not. He’s got plenty of projects on the way. “First I am going to finish Strigoaie: The Romanian Witch. Then I’m going to start working on a novella titled, One Summer at Camp Falcon. And after that, I’ll begin working on, The Back Roads to Blue Lake (another short story collection) and an idea struck me recently to write another Strigoaie book. The story’s been playing in my head a little bit as I wash dishes, which is where ALL my ideas come from.”

For more information about Marc Vale and his work please check out these sites!

http://www.marcvale.blogspot.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Marc-Vale/e/B005ZVEC4E/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
http://community.podiobooks.com/profile/MarcVale?xg_source=activity
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MarcVale

Roses Of Winter by Murdo Morrison

Tom Brokaw called the people that lived through the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War 2 The Greatest Generation. In his 1998 book called The Greatest Generation he recounted stories of how soldiers and families in America were effected by the war. Life in the 30’s and 40’s wasn’t easy and some families were torn apart by the financial struggles of the Great Depression in the 30’s and young men having to go off to war in the 40’s.

Overtime, I’ve read quite a few accounts of American families during the war years, so I was happy to find a fictional novel that centered around two families in Scotland during World War 2. The book is called Roses of Winter by Murdo Morrison. Roses Of Winter was originally a podiobook and was released in print in July 2011. The two families in the story are working class families who are greatly effected by the war.

The first family is the Burns who live in Maryhill. In September of 1939, Mary and Charlie sat in their home reading the paper and wondering when the Germans would attack Scotland. The Burns have three kids, Alastair, Elspeth and their teenage daughter Ellen. In the evening, they go to church where the Reverend announces that the country is now at war.  The congregation is in shock. They had hoped the Great War that ended in 1917 would be the last, but things didn’t work out that way.

Things get worse for the Burns. Ellen is not getting along with her mother Mary while Charlie who is in the Merchant Navy has to sail away on a ship called The Jasper to deliver petroleum to the British army in France. The ship gets bombed by the Germans en route, causing the crew to abandon ship and head for land where things aren’t any better. Back in Maryhill, Mary has to leave her family to attend the funeral of her mother in Glasgow. On her return she finds Ellen is dating a man who is headed off to fight in the war.

The second family is the McIntyers. Bessie and Murdo have two sons, Donald and Alec, who are off fighting in the war. The couple lives in Scotstoun where Bessie dreams of a better life. Bessie has no friends and her life was turned upside down when she was a teenager when her family lost all their money in the Great Depression.  Bessie has had to work hard ever since and her life gets worse when one of her sons is killed in the war. One of her neighbors: Ella reaches out to her, giving Bessie the opportunity to talk about her sad life.

Ella has a daughter that lives near by Clydesbank. One night in March of 1941, Scotland’s worse fears come true when Clydesbank is bombed by German forces. Fearing for her daughter, Ella leaves the safety of her apartment and takes the tramcar to find her daughter. As she gets to town there are explosions and people screaming all around. There is no safe place to turn but she can’t leave the war-torn town until she finds her daughter.

Roses Of Winter has vivid descriptions of naval battles along with cities getting bombed into rubble, but its more then just a war story. What really makes Roses Of Winter a great novel is how the characters in the story react to the chaos around them. The characters change during the course of the story and you feel for them. When I read a book, I like to bookmark parts that I really enjoy. I bookmarked 20 different scenes in Roses Of Winter that I felt were examples of great writing.

For example, I liked when Mary is at her mother’s funeral and while grieving makes the realization that someday her kids will have to attend her funeral and feel the same way she feels. I also liked when the ship Charlie is on is under attack and as he sees the bombs dropping, he imagines being on a picnic with his wife. Other things I liked in this book was how Bessie and Ellen changed throughout the story. There is also a good scene where Andy finds the people he works with are more then they seem and there is a good commentary on how its the working class that really pays the price in a time of crisis.

Murdo Morrison put a lot of work into the research of Roses Of Winter and should be commended for it.  He read several accounts of people in Scotland who lived through that period; also the ships in the story we’re based on real ships from the era. The tenaments that many of the characters lived in were based on the place where the author’s mother grew up and was very similar to where the author used to live in.

Roses of Winter is kind of like a journey through World War 2, where you will find a little bit of everything. The book has a couple of love stories, there is loss, suspense, a suicide and some good battle scenes. At its core, the story is about how families and friends pull together to survive in the face of disaster. Roses Of Winter is a great human drama and an excellent read.